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Finding the real you again

I remember the day that I was diagnosed with Anorexia: 14th September 2021. It will be a date that forever stays with me. I left work early that day in order to go to my assessment. The last words I said to family members were “I won’t be long, there is nothing wrong with me.”

Over 2 hours later I was able to leave after having to have my blood sugars corrected during the assessment. I still didn’t feel there was a problem, and don’t actually remember the words being said to me- that I had anorexia. The treatment was intense with refeeding bloods done at the beginning to ensure that I was safe and well as I started treatment.

I remember the intensive sessions that I had every week; I would plead with my clinicians to help me to lose weight and would feel self-hatred and disgust when the treatment worked and my body changed. This was all the eating disorder. It’s difficult to see this when you are in the midst of it. You don’t think about the negative impact of the Eating Disorder: the difficulty in concentrating, the feeling of being so cold all the time. It is only when you look back now that you see what it was doing to you. The constant sense of inadequacy it brought. I spent many months having these intensive sessions weekly and this then changed to once a fortnight as I came closer to starting CBT-E. These sessions helped me to see the real facts, the real me. The journey had begun.

When diagnosed with an eating disorder, you can quickly lose sense of who you are and begin to feel isolated in what can be a very daunting world. It can feel like this will never change, but I can truly say that there is hope. There will be something that pulls you through: it might be something new or maybe even a past hobby.

For me, it was photography. I had become so enveloped in my eating disorder  that I felt I had closed the shutter on my camera and could not see what was going on around me. This all changed when I began to receive help. I started to see the world again and take notice of the things around me. I was taking photos again, but taking them mindfully now! I went on a course to learn new skills and even got some photos published in the local paper. As I began to feel stronger, I also started to use my images to write positive quotes on to try and inspire others in similar positions to me.

It felt different to begin thinking of the positives at first, but it soon helped me to begin feeling better about myself. I could contribute and help others. I knew what I wanted to do now. I had a purpose. I wanted to help others. This gave me a reason to keep going and to keep fighting this eating disorder. There will be something that will give you that purpose. I never thought I’d find it, but it can appear when you least expect it. You are worth it. The Eating Disorder Voice may say that you are not worthy of eating or not worthy of help or recovery. Look through that lens and find that fight within you. It may start small but it can really grow to create a wonderful photograph.

-Contributed by Charlotte

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in Charlotte's story, or are concerned for yourself or a loved one, you can find support and guidance on the help pages of our website.