Anorexia persuaded me that my actions were completely normal. When others behaved differently, they were wrong and I was right. Anorexia provided me with an exhaustive list of excuses, all of which were so believable that even I could justify my actions.
Hiding from the truth was easy – well, for me it was. Living at boarding school I could hide everything from those who truly cared. It was only during exams that things spiralled out of control and these truths came out. I had hit ‘the point of no return’. After hiding from my family, avoiding teachers and isolating myself from friends, all who were left were me and anorexia. This was when anorexia was able to completely take over all control. I was left ill and vulnerable. Along with my health, anorexia took away my gap year, took away holidays, festivals, parties and worst of all, took away friends. I spent the entire two months post A-level summer completely isolated and alone, too afraid to see anyone knowing they wouldn’t even recognise me.
Luckily for me there were two things I never lost. Firstly, was my family. I still have no idea how they put up with me and are still putting up with me! Knowing what I put them through: arguments, health scares, hospital visits, food dramas, mood swings (the list could go on and on), I am so grateful. I’d just moved house and therefore had to move between services and I was getting no professional support. My only support was my family. They are the ones that kept me going and probably kept me alive.
Secondly, was hope. The one thing that throughout the summer holiday I never lost. My family never lost hope either. Even when everything was seemingly as bad as it could be, I always believed it would get better, that there was a reason behind it all. There were so many times that I was so close to losing, and could so easily have lost, all hope. I worked through it, day by day, week by week and very slowly things started getting better.
With every meal I ate I started to feel better and better (much to anorexia’s disliking). I began thinking straight, I was able to put everything into perspective and most importantly, I was able to look ahead and recognise what I had to live for. I made the decision to get better. Not just for me, but for those who had suffered with me. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, but the best decision I ever made.
I made this decision on 16th August 2018, results day. My A-level grades exceeded what the doctor told me were going to be a ‘train crash’. I made the decision, on this day that I was going to university. The doctor said no, but I said yes. I was determined to get myself there, so I did. Six weeks of mental torture, of fighting every one of anorexia’s manipulative comments, of physical pain, of thinking ‘maybe this is a bad idea’ or ‘maybe I should wait until next year’ and of proving to those around me that I was ready.
I knew I would struggle and I’m not surprised. I knew it would be difficult, I knew there would be daily challenges and I knew there would be bad days. However, these bad days and challenges are outweighed by positives. I am finally able to enjoy myself and my mind is no longer consumed entirely by food. Finally, I have found myself able to live, rather than just exist.
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.