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Looks can be deceptive

I am following my meal plan as best I can; I’m steadily gaining back the weight I tried so hard to lose. I am back in the healthy weight range for my age and height, so I’m recovering. Right?

Maybe so, but I also still know I’m a million miles off where I’d love to be, free of my ED thoughts and behaviours and able to enjoy eating what I want, when I want. My body looks so healthy to an outsider’s glance, the pain and inner turmoil that this illness brings is well hidden away beneath the surface.

My point is that I may have made a positive start to my recovery but my mind is still very much disordered. In many ways I feel more fragile now than I did when fully in the grips of my ED and at my lowest weight. I need your support, possibly more now than ever before. My ED habits are gradually being overcome; I join in with the rest of the office when a cake is brought in and eat lunch with my colleagues, but the frustration at myself and the overwhelming guilt that comes with it is still very much real. When at my worst I felt very little. My thoughts were focused on food but my feelings and emotions were wrestled into a hungry numbness that made them manageable. Now I’m eating more they’ve been let loose; they feel wild and alien to me as well as leaving me scared, confused and often in a muddle as to how to deal with them.

I ask for you to listen. It takes a lot for me to talk, really talk about things. Please don’t look at me and walk away; I already feel a little lost and abandoned. I no longer fit the criteria for NHS ED treatment in my area; I am a healthy weight, but try and understand when I try to explain how broken my mind is. I want to recover, but the process is so tough at times I wonder if I really want it enough to make it through, reach and sustain a full recovery.

Now I must pay for treatment if I wish to continue. I have tried to continue my fight alone but relapsed quickly. I still can’t trust myself and find it hard to give myself the permission to eat. I’m lucky – I’ve found some really useful support; it’s helping a lot but it was never going to be a ‘quick fix’ and I’m in it for the long haul. I try to strike a balance between spending money on therapy and spending on the things I enjoy. I’ve decided I need both if I want to recover. This balancing act in itself is stressful at times – how long I can afford to do this I really don’t know. Of course, there’s an alternative option, one I don’t want to pursue, and that’s to relapse to a point where I qualify for NHS help again. I don’t want this. I’ve chosen recovery, I want to keep going, I just need your support.

So really, what I’m trying to say is that every day, every snack or meal time I may not show any obvious signs as to the battle raging inside my head, but please be there if I need you. Sometimes even what seem like the simplest of decisions to make are agonising decisions for me. My body appears recovered; my mind is still trying to catch up.

Just be there for me, because sometimes when I look my healthiest, I am needing the most support. I want to continue forward, defeat this illness and fully recover. With help I hope we can do this.

Contributed by Clare