I didn’t understand how it was possible. I had a therapy team desperate for my eyes to open and acknowledge my illness. At the same time, nobody at school approached me to express concern. How could it be “that critical” if my peers hadn’t expressed concern?
Eating disorders are secretive, manipulative and misunderstood. They’re scary and complicated. They’re not a case of selecting the thinnest girl in the year and presuming she has an eating disorder. It doesn’t work like that.
Eating disorder diagnosis necessitates qualified professionals. Yes, they may only spend a fraction of time with you compared to your peers but they understand the mind. They understand the enormity and complexity of your problem. They see it.
They saw it and I didn’t like it. I refused to accept it. My eating disorder told me to be clever. In sessions I pretended to have accepted my disorder but underneath I refuted any possibility. My eating disorder congratulated me for convincing these professionals. I’d done well. My friends blissfully unaware and professionals believing I was trying.
Guilt is often directly associated with food when it comes to an eating disorder. However, the guilt in other areas is overwhelming. I was surrounded with people who cared about me but I was lying, disobeying and manipulating them in order to live according to my eating disorder’s rules.
As you would expect, I couldn’t maintain this front forever and eventually I crashed. It wasn’t a singular melodramatic incident in which I saw my life flash before my eyes but a series of events, collectively pushing me into some form of realisation. I was pulled out of education, had weekly blood tests and spent more time speaking to therapists than I did my friends. I didn’t leave my bed... let alone leave my room. I was numb to the world. The initial thrill of starvation had dissipated, and a cold numbness had ensued.
That wasn’t my miracle awakening into recovery. For me, it wasn’t like that. Years down the line, I am back on track. I have a long way to go and I’m okay with that. I have rebuilt the foundations, previously destroyed, on which I live my life. It’s a battle and a struggle but one that I am winning. Yes, there are times when I lose but it’s only a temporary matter. I have learnt to rest in times of struggle and not to quit.
I would like you to know that it is not black and white. Eating disorder vs. recovery isn’t as simplistic as poorly or not. It’s a grey fuzzy line and an uphill battle. I understand that you don’t have any energy or drive at the moment but step by step you can rebuild your life. It is inevitable that there will be times where this all feels too difficult, but remember, slow progress is better than no progress. It helped me to view my recovery not as a day by day process but as a process in general. A struggle one morning doesn’t dictate a bad day.
Ultimately, you can do this. Do this with me. Strive for progress not perfection.
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.