You have to work hard to achieve recovery, but it is achievable.

Posted 24/04/2019

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.

Contributed by Megan