I was never a slim child growing up. In fact, I was overweight, but this never seemed to bother me. Later, I used food as a coping mechanism. I would binge on chocolate bars day after day, week after week because I couldn’t cope with the way I was feeling, and this sparked something inside of me that would cause me to hate my body, And I would stuff myself silly as a form of punishment for being “so fat”. This went on for a month or so the summer before secondary school came around, and I soon began to notice that other girls were prettier than me and smarter than me, and this really got to me. I felt the need to fit in and be “perfect”; I wanted to have curves and a flat stomach, I wanted long hair. I wanted all the things I didn’t have. Instead of focusing on the negatives, I should have looked for the positives, the good qualities in me, yet I couldn’t see this; I was blinded by society’s idea of “beauty”.
Then all of a sudden my world got turned upside down. One day my mum came and sat down with me and my siblings and told us she was leaving. There was no specific reason other than she didn’t want to live with my father anymore. I was heartbroken, although I would never have admitted it. I felt like such a horrible person that I should be punished; I felt it was my fault that my mum had chosen to leave, so I went on a diet. A diet that would restrict all my nutritional needs, a diet that would essentially kill me, a diet that didn’t just cause me to lose weight but to lose all my friends. I was horrible to them and I’m so lucky to have them back. I lost my sense of humour. Nothing was funny anymore, I didn’t have the energy to laugh, and I lost my smile, my dear loving smile, which, I’m told by my family, can light up a room.
One night I broke down in front of my mum and told her I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t deal with feeling this way. She took me to the doctors and they straight away referred me to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). I was mortified; I had heard so many stories about this place and I was embarrassed that I had a problem, ashamed of my mental illness. So I didn’t comply. I completely denied to myself that there was anything wrong. I didn’t allow them to weigh me or check my height, I lied about what I ate, and I lied about feeling dizzy and unwell. I was rude and disrespectful and I didn’t want to get better. I thrived on my illness. And that’s what anorexia does to you: your brain is so malnourished and starved that all you want to do is be sicker and sicker and sicker. You want to be the “best anorexic”, as eating disorders are so competitive, and it’s sad, as we should thrive on happiness and life, not guilt and death.
My birthday came around right before the summer holidays, and I made such a special effort to go out and buy lots of cake and sweets and crisps for my friends to enjoy, but I wouldn’t allow myself to eat any of it – I didn’t deserve it. What would people think if I ate it? So I miserably had the same boring tea I always had, whilst all my friends enjoyed my birthday cake.
Summer holidays rolled around and it was all a blur. I had nothing to do, so I would spend most of my day obsessively walking, and when I wasn’t walking I would be sleeping or planning out my meals for the next two months. I was trapped in a vicious cycle of wake up, eat , walk, sleep, and this went on all summer. I missed out on so, so, so many opportunities, including two family holidays, as I didn’t want the control over food to be taken away from me. I was sad and miserable 24/7, and people would tell me I was way too skinny but I just took it as a compliment and would thrive on this.
When September came along I was at my worst: cold, bony, tired, scared, sad and lonely all the time. I couldn’t keep warm for the life of me; I hated every aspect of life and I just wanted to die. Every night would be the same – I would drink a cup of green tea and go to bed wishing I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.
However, September 11th last year is the day my life changed forever. Something clicked inside of me, and I don’t know what it was, but I just wanted to LIVE. I was so done with anorexia and its crappy lies – I wanted to be free. After school on that Monday, I broke every single rule my head had ever made, and I poured myself a nice big bowl of unmeasured cereal and took a spoonful of freedom. It was scary, oh yes, but it was worth it! From then on, I decided I would get better and restore my weight. I would live my life to the fullest, not caring about what others think about me, and I would love my body and accept it. I shall eat what I damn well please when I damn well want.
I have been weight restored for a few months now, and I class myself as fully recovered as I have no desire to act upon thoughts. I do still have bad days, but the good days are more often. It’s been a rocky road but it’s been worth it, and I’ve met some amazing people along the way, including my best friend, whom my life would be so incomplete without. I have received amazing support from teachers who have quite literally saved my life, and from one of my dearest friends who always understands me. I shall be forever grateful for these people. I have also been discharged from CAMHS, and I’m hoping to be a runner when I am older.
Recovery was by far the best decision of my life, and every moment has been worth it. I’m 13 years old and I recovered from anorexia; I won the war! Never give up hope.
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.