Bulimia isn’t a disease or bug you just get over by taking antibiotics. It is a mental illness that takes over. I was badly bullied at school for being chubby. I started to hate my body image but loved food too much – throwing up after eating was an easy option for me to try to lose weight, which got very addicting. I found I had some control of me and felt I deserve to be unhappy.
After a while I got worse with body image. I was the ‘fat friend’, which never helped with my confidence. I started to lose weight when I had my prom and sister’s wedding coming up – I hit the gym more and started to run with my sister, and started to take slimming pills. I started to lose more weight quite quickly.
The more I got obsessed the more it was slowly eating away at my personality. I always been bubbly, smiley, and outgoing, but I became a person I didn’t recognised. I became antisocial, depressive and barely talked. I isolated myself from friends and family. At the end of my two years at college I was very much alone. I believed I was no good for anyone and I deserved what I got. I wanted to lose more weight and started to eat less and less.
My doctor got me to do some counselling, which never really worked as I never opened up about it. I never admitted I needed help in those days. But my mum was starting to see I had issues and tried to help me – I pushed anyone away who did. I decided going to university would be the end of my weight loss and that I would try to maintain my weight. I started to enjoy life again, go out again and felt more alive I done in a while.
I thought I’d beaten it, but I was wrong. A few months later the feelings started to kick up again. I started to buy more slimming tablets and eating less. I started not to cope in stressful moments and getting forgetful. My weight wasn’t moving as fast I wanted to. After my first year at college I started to get dangerously low. As I ate less, my weight plummeted. My family was getting worried and so did my uni friends. I left university after a few months. I couldn’t cope, I was always exhausted and easily picked up bugs.
Once I was home, I started counselling again, and yet again it was a waste of time. I just ignored the problem. I became a shell of the person I was once. I cut my hair off due to losing it; I lost all my curves. All I did was run, sleep and work. I hid away from my family and friends. I was ashamed of what I became.
At this time I was training to do my first marathon. Doctors kept warning me but I carried on anyway till a week before the event. I had issues with my heart, and that’s when it hit me: my body was giving up. I finally put my hands up and gave in. I dropped out of the marathon and decided I needed help. Admitting I had anorexia was just the first step to my recovery.
I was admitted into an eating disorder clinic. It was a small centre, but it became my home for five months. It was hard when Mum and Dad dropped me off – I felt abandoned, but I knew it was for the best. I never knew how much I put my parents through until I got to the clinic – they should never see their child self-destruct in that way. It was the hardest thing I did having to learn to eat meals again and drink normal amounts, I was bedridden when I first got there and all I did was sleep. I wasn’t the easiest of patients either – I did (still do) throw good strops.
By the second month in I was starting to see changes. I was starting to see the old Meg – I started to smile again, laugh and joke around, and wanted to be around people. I wanted to know everything and everyone; my love of chatting came back. I was allowed to go home for weekends by the third month, which Mum loved, but wasn’t allowed to do much walking or exercise – I did miss my running a lot though mind. By the fourth month I was allowed into this flat where you cook yourself and be more independent so I should manage by the time I got discharged. I was getting more nervous each day, but the unit was brilliant to prepare me to re-join the real world.
September 4th 2010 I was allowed home. I’m not going to lie: it was hard. But with the help of family and friends I adjusted myself. I returned to work a month later and started to run again but I did have a blip – I started to lose weight again and went back on slimming tablets but I managed to get back off them and focus on my body. I couldn’t do that again to myself. I started to run more but also started to eat more, which helped me maintain my weight. I started to train for my first marathon with help from a good friend – he said he’d help me train as long I listened to him and ate, so that’s what I did. I smashed my first marathon – it was a great sense of achievement, and the best feeling was that I did it healthy. After that my weight remained healthy. I started to enjoy life and embrace it. I did things I thought I couldn’t do: I went back to college and qualified as a fitness instructor. That led me into many things and now I’m a personal trainer and running couch.
Recovery isn’t easy. You will have to work hard to achieve it, but it is achievable. Now age 29 I can look back and think, well, if I can maintain my ED demons, I can anything I put my mind to. It has taken me a long time to talk about my experience with ED and some experiences I cannot share because it is hard to open up, but I am in a good place to share my story.
It’s best to be open and to be honest with yourself. I still struggle with many aspects of ED; I still have good and bad days, but I won’t let it get in the way of my life. I am not perfect and won't say I’m fully recovered, but I keep battling and focus on my life now.
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!
I want to shed some light on diet culture and what it drove me to do to myself for eight years. I will never get those eight years back, but what I do know is that I will never put myself through all the self-inflicted pain it took in order to look a certain way.