My eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, started off in 2012 when I was at university. I was having flashbacks and nightmares; I felt very vulnerable. Because of this I tried to suppress my emotions by restricting my food intake and fluid. Every time I felt something I would ignore the emotion and not eat or drink. I just did not want to listen to my body. I wanted to make myself suffer. I often felt anxious and depressed, many times angry and ashamed about everything that has happened in my life therefore I numbed out the pain. I just could not stand to endure the feelings anymore.
I was firstly admitted into an inpatient treatment centre in California, USA in 2014. There I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the time I could not sleep, I couldn’t function and again could just not eat or drink. I kept fainting, my kidneys were nearly failing and my body was giving up on me. I was in America to study dance and to travel to the different states. I was told that I could not do either of these things as my health was spiralling out of control. It felt like my life was taken away from me.
It was also a way of expressing how angry I felt and a way to distract myself from feeling painful emotions. Instead of directing the anger at other people, I directed it towards myself. I also stopped eating so I didn’t develop a womanly body. I had low self-esteem; I hated myself and wanted to hide, cover up and disappear.
There was a period of my life that I blocked out certain things and began to live. I tried to not think about everything. I managed to finish my bachelor’s degree; I travelled the world and worked as a performer. But every time I settled back in to my home town, all of the events came flooding back and I felt the need to escape, run and get as far away as I could abroad. Half way through my master’s degree my health started to go downhill again. Many things triggered me. I had to drop out of the course and be taken into my second inpatient treatment facility in the UK. My life just stopped. Every day I continued to have PTSD. I had severe anxiety and would dissociate regularly. The flashbacks were frightening. I felt trapped and fearful. I was unable to breathe and would shake involuntarily. It felt like I was drowning.
I spent a total of two years at that treatment facility and am still here. This second year has been the starting point of my recovery. I began to gain confidence and feel happiness. At times it has been very difficult, and I have wanted to quit and give up, but with the help of all of the staff they have kept me going. I call this period of my life an adventure, a journey. It has not been glamorous at all. It has been a constant battle fighting thoughts and feelings. It has been hard, a rollercoaster. But I have always had that little bit of hope inside of me, a dream of what life could really be like without anorexia.
I have so much to look forward to, in terms of the future. I am hopefully moving into supported housing, I will continue to travel the world and teach dance to disadvantaged individuals and refugees. Life is bright and exciting. Even though the past has been extremely painful, I am thankful at times as it has made me the person I am today. It has made me stronger. I don’t want my eating disorder to be in the dark anymore; I want to raise awareness and help others to beat this.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
What a year 2020 has been in general for everyone – it was a year no one ever could have imagined, from panic buying, toilet roll shortages, lockdowns and restrictions. Yet for so many, including me, the battle against an eating disorder continued.