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Nothing changes if nothing changes

I never thought I would be the type of person to write about their experience with an Eating Disorder as I always felt that people would just think I was lying or attention seeking. I am still scared about sharing this because I don’t want it to change how people see or treat me, but then again I suppose this is also the point…

Since turning 30, I have come to realise just how much of my life has been wasted and controlled by my eating disorder. The truth is, I have been suffering from Anorexia Nervosa for over 15 years.

It still makes me cringe when I say the ‘A’ word as to this day I find it hard to accept that I am or was ‘Anorexic’.

“I am not thin enough, I eat too much and it’s just normal to want to be thin, right?” 

These of course, are probably the typical thoughts someone with this illness has but I still find it hard to relate them to myself even when I was at my lowest weight – it’s such a strange and dangerous cycle of thoughts. And of course the reality is having an eating disorder is nothing to do with weight or size at all and it’s just a mask of control we use to control what’s really going on in our life.

Aside from my three hospital admissions as an inpatient and months of attending a day care program, which included refeeding back to what is a ‘normal weight’ and regular therapy sessions – living in the normal world in between you would probably think I was okay.

In fact, I do function quite well today – I go to work, I drive, I do my own shopping and cook for myself daily. I could pass you in a supermarket and you would have no idea. I try to maintain normality as much as possible as I know where the spiral of cutting back will lead.

But that’s the trouble with mental illness: you can’t see it and it can feel escalated when you have an eating disorder because once you get the label of being ‘Anorexic’ people think you are okay unless you look like you’re about to keel over. It is possible to still have eating disorder but be a normal weight and honestly, some of my worse thoughts have not exactly been when I was at my lowest weight.

The truth is I feel like my life has and still is to some extent ruled by my weight, routines and rules around food/exercise and this is the reality of living with an eating disorder. I always feel like the odd one out or that people just don’t really understand me and I know I have pushed people out and avoided social gatherings because I’m afraid of losing this warped sense of control I think I have on my life. And this is the reality of living with it.

So, I just want people to know that if I am distant or decline to do things on some days, it’s more than likely because there are million other thoughts in my head I have to battle with before making a decision.   I wanted to write this to break these secrets I have been keeping and hope that people will understand why I sometimes act distant or detached. I feel like Anorexia has taken away my personality and identity and I don’t know who I am or what I actually want to do sometimes.

I hope that by sharing this I can start to create a new beginning for myself and live a life where it’s not just me and Anorexia but it’s me and the rest of the world and help others in the process to know that Anorexia or any eating disorder is not a way of life but a debilitating illness which will control every aspect of your life.

Recovery doesn’t always happen for some people and sadly I am prepared for that to be the reality for me, but I am also prepared to fight for a life worth living by raising awareness of eating disorders to help other people where I can. Sometimes recovery doesn’t always end with being able to pick up an ice cream and eat it on a summer’s day without a care and sometimes recovery is just an ongoing battle.

Thank you to those of you that have stood by me throughout my journey so far and for the people I have known and lost due to this illness – I am always thinking of you. X

Contributed by Sarah