I have anorexia nervosa and other mental health conditions. I want to raise awareness of this terrible illness and what it does, not just to the sufferers but also to the ones around them. I’m not going to post pictures of me in hospital, being fed through a tube or being in a wheelchair, because that’s not what anorexia is about. They are side effects of the illness. Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder which dominates people’s lives in many ways, and they are only some of them. For a lot of sufferers, it may seem like a "competitive" illness. But all eating disorder cases are different and are not measured in weight, calories, hospital admissions and ng tubing. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. You cannot say to someone, "you look anorexic" because they are thin, or "you’re too big to be anorexic" if they are not. Anyone can suffer from this, and I beg each and every one of you to reach out for help. There's no such thing as "not sick enough". I spent the majority of my illness believing this, whereas I needed help more than ever.
I'd like to raise awareness to those around the sufferers who struggle with the illness. Whether it be a family member, a friend or a partner, it's equally difficult for them. I was looking through pictures to use in a slideshow of my journey to show how far I've come, but when I was doing this I noticed a huge transformation in other people such as my long-term boyfriend. It wasn't just me that was being affected by all of this. I could see it in Calum’s eyes; his smile wasn't real and it made me feel awful for what I was doing to him. But it wasn’t me doing it; it was anorexia. I spent an awful long time blaming myself for the harm of others when I was ill. This illness makes you so paranoid and insecure.
To all sufferers: it is not your fault. You did not chose to have this illness and you can fight it. You will fight it.
To all people close to sufferers: it is not your fault. You did nothing wrong. The person suffering does not wish for this and would do anything to change. And they will change soon – you just need to be brave and cheer them on as they fight.
To all people who see eating disorders as a physical illness driven purely by someone wanting to be "thin": that is not the case. In fact, every case is different. There is no specific reason why a person develops an eating disorder. Just be aware that one cannot simply "just eat" or "get a grip". That’s like telling someone who's blind to "just see".
I am recovered from anorexia nervosa. It was a hell of a journey, but it's possible and so worth it. If you or anyone you know is displaying signs of an eating disorder, seek help. It’s never too early.