Keep pushing forward and everything will fall into place.

Posted 16/01/2017

Two months into a new year and everyone’s new year’s resolutions are either in full swing or been forgotten after a week. Life with an eating disorder isn't as simple as making a new resolution to just 'get better'. A new year doesn't bring a new start to wipe clean the years before. For me, and everyone else dealing with the immense pressure of an eating disorder, a new year is simply another year to keep fighting and another year anorexia loses.

10 years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic anorexia. I do not remember exactly what triggered it, only that I was unhappy with my body and looks. I did not feel good enough or attractive enough compared to the other girls at my school. (It didn't help that it was an all girls school, and I was constantly comparing myself to every single girl that walked past.) During the next three years my eating disorder spiralled out of control – I was a shadow of my former self with no energy to do anything but think about my food intake, weight and shape.

I fell into a dark and lonely place, fading away into hardly anything. I could not (and am still not able to) see what everyone else saw. Getting smaller by the day, sunken cheeks, sunken eyes and a look of sadness and anxiety every day.

I was a talented dancer, and by the age of 17 I was so ill I was not able to attend my classes. School was also non-existent as my GP would not allow me to go, signing me off and contacting my school to explain why. I was in sixth form at this point studying for A Level exams. This was still important to me, and somehow I had the determination to do these exams. I studied at home when I could, on better days when anorexia was not shouting at me and tearing me apart. By this point I never left the house and was so depressed I was self-harming almost daily. I can't imagine what I put my family through. At my worst point I was admitted to A&E as my organs were shutting down, had two inpatient admissions, and was told unless I was forced into treatment that day I would not survive. Reading this now it seems like a horrible dream. Who would imagine (I know my doctors and consultants wouldn't have!) that 10 years later, now 25, I have a successful job working for a great company, friends, a wonderful boyfriend, and that last year we bought our first home together.

Don't get me wrong, it still niggles away at me every day, some days worse than others. I wish I could press a button at times to stop the negative thoughts and images I see when I look in the mirror. I still have times when it is easy to return to anorexia and I go through times I let it take over. It still feels safe and I feel I am more in control. Christmas and New Year are always hardest, especially with memories of spending both in a specialist eating disorder unit – not exactly the coolest place to be when you are 17/18. However, would I choose to go right back? Right back to a dark existence, having everything ripped out of my life? No way. I have done the 'new resolution' and am happy with keeping it up for nearly six years now. Every year is another year I get the chance to live.

Keep pushing forward and everything will fall into place.

Dancer