I didn’t ever think that I would get to this point. To be honest I didn’t think that I had a ‘point’ to get to as I didn’t think that anything was wrong… But here I am, after a long old journey, feeling proud that I BEAT anorexia.
This is a weird feeling for me. Why should I feel proud of getting over something that I thought I got myself into in the first place?! But eating disorders aren’t a choice; I didn’t decide to develop anorexia; it isn’t my fault that I didn’t notice the warning signs or listen to my friends and family – it just happened. Sadly, these things do.
After years of denial, my first steps toward recovery started just before my final year of university. Turning to my mum and finally agreeing to go to the GP was tough, but if I’m honest, at this point I still didn’t really think that I had a problem. I thought that everyone was making a big deal out of nothing and that really they were jealous. I was exercising lots and eating healthy food – that’s what everyone strives to do, isn’t it?! Yes, maybe I was a bit skinny but I convinced myself that that was just my natural weight… I was in control, I knew what I was doing, everything was totally fine.
But that’s just it. You’re not in control; in fact, the thing that I thought I was so in control of was the thing that was making me lose control of everything else.
My final year of university was a downhill spiral and due to living in a totally different county to where I had reluctantly seen the GP months earlier, I had no access to Eating Disorder Services until I moved back home. After graduation I then decided to take a job in London (bad move) so put my ‘recovery’ on hold again, telling myself that everything was fine, that I knew what I was doing. However, inevitably time took its toll and I couldn’t maintain my unhealthy behaviours. I finally cracked, I finally realised that what I was doing to myself wasn’t right, I finally got seen by eating disorder services and I finally started my fight for recovery.
I was embarrassed. Ashamed for ‘letting’ myself lose control and exhausted from the fight. Recovery is hard. One minute your brain is like “Yes! I can do this! I want to recover; I don’t want to worry about every gram of food that I eat, every inch of my body, every moment of exercise – I want to live!” but then two seconds later your brain shouts “There’s nothing wrong with you, get a grip! Stop listening to everyone tell you there’s a problem, you’re fine!” It is hard. But you CAN get through it, you CAN quieten the bad voices, you CAN enjoy a totally amazing double chocolate brownie and not die inside! It’s tough but so are you.
Two years of therapy later, I realised that I was in control of changing the future. Although it wasn’t my fault that I was suffering with anorexia, I was the only person that was going to be able to get myself out of this mess. Slowly but surely, with the unrelenting love and support from my amazing family, friends and boyfriend (make sure you listen to them, even if you hate them at the time!) I started to care and worry less. Almost without realising, life was easier and more enjoyable and my reliance on therapy dwindled. I was finally discharged from the amazing Leicestershire Eating Disorder Services and I cannot thank them enough for their support.
I then signed up to the Hackney Half Marathon. I’ve always loved running and with the support of my incredible boyfriend and his best friend, I felt ready for a challenge. It was tough and there were moments when I thought that the voices were coming back and I wouldn’t be able to do it, but on 20th May 2018 (with a lot of love, support and determination) I found myself on the start line wearing a Beat vest. I couldn’t believe that I had made it and it was happening, and at about five miles in I felt a huge wave of emotion wash over me like I have never felt before.
I had done it. I had actually managed to get over something that I truly thought was ‘just part of me and who I was’ and I was enjoying life, happy and at a healthy weight. Throughout my recovery I told very few people about my eating disorder (although it was probably obvious) as to be honest, I was ashamed. But on that day, running in the sunshine, wearing my Beat vest, I felt a totally new emotion. Pride.
I knew in that moment that I had achieved something that I didn’t know I was striving for. To feel proud of myself and not embarrassed, ashamed or guilty. I’d been so hard on myself for so many years, striving for perfection or something… but in that moment I felt content, happy, fulfilled.
You CAN recover. Even if you don’t really want to in the first place (trust me, deep down you do). Life is SO much better when your brain isn’t working at a million miles an hour, you’ve gained a few pounds and you can enjoy yourself without feeling guilty. As hard as it is, listen to your loved ones, ride the recovery rollercoaster, and then allow yourself to feel PROUD. What you have overcome is a huge achievement, and you are fabulous.
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.