I decided to share the journey I know many people will be surprised to hear I am on. Not to receive sympathy, pity or to be thought of as a less capable human being, but for everyone suffering in silence. To spread awareness that ‘labels’ restrict one from healing and prevent the seekers ever finding the solution: their minds.
This is my short story of the catalyst that made me take the first step on my one-way road to recovery from anorexia, anxiety and OCD.
Only now am I aware I had been living my life believing my own taunts and accusations of failing to be a good enough daughter, granddaughter, sibling or friend. I created a self-induced, unreachable high standard I figured I ought to reach for myself and because I assumed others held me to this same expectation.
This meant, regardless of any achievement, it was never enough. I frequently bit off more than I could chew to assist and impress observers with my multi-tasking skills and prove my success at everything I did. I often found myself spiralling out of control and living with constant anxiety of not being in control. It was a vicious cycle: the more I tried to take control, the less I could.
Over a year ago, I reasoned the place of absolute control was my diet, so my weight plummeted below its already too-small number. Before I knew it, roles had reversed – my eating disorder was now controlling me.
Once my parents noticed my situation, they offered every avenue of recovery. I knew they felt helpless and devastated that as parents they could not fix their child. I was under the impression it was entirely up to me.
I had never felt more alone. For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to communicate with anyone, assuming friends would see me as an attention-seeker, that they would not believe my struggles. After all, I ate ice cream with them!
My friends, however, did not know I had eaten nothing prior to the ice cream or about the long run I had already planned for after.
I believed no one understood my battle and dug myself a deep hole I did not anticipate I could re-emerge from. By definition, I was a person who was anxious and anorexic. I believed this was who I was, so it could not be changed.
Over time, I understood that although a big part of my recovery needed to come from within, it was not a battle I had to fight alone. Crucial to my healing was receiving support, professionally and from those who love me. I created a support system of individuals who I trusted, could be honest with and had my best interests at heart.
I have been living with the dangerous misunderstanding that my thoughts were a reality. I was seriously mistaken, for not for one moment did I consider the possibility that a change in thought would in turn be a change in experience.
I have always been a believer that God placed humans on this tangible planet to indulge and enjoy the material within the letter of the law, making the physical spiritual. I soon realised my malnourished body, my lack of engaging with the physical food, meant I could no longer have any divine connection to God. I was in a constant haze, feeling distant and far removed from his presence and any sense of clarity of who I was.
I was not practising what I preached. I soon after began to understand that engaging in the physical – ensuring I consumed enough to fuel my body – was a pre-requisite to achieving a spiritual relationship to God, humankind and myself.
God created this world in colour and food with taste. God crafted this world for our enjoyment. I began to think. To think about the multiple unimaginable hardships millions have gone through.
Regardless of the oppressors or the severity of the situation, the free choice of one’s reaction can never be taken away. And so it is with me. Life did not need to be a constant battle. I could appreciate the taste of God’s food instead of tormenting myself as I forced it down me.
Once I realised I could choose joy, a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Now I am ready. Ready to let go of the previous thought-made box I defined myself to be trapped in. Ready to stop permitting my thoughts to limit my potential and self- worth.
Ready to use my mind, thought and conscience to experience life, its ups and downs and to make me me.
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.