If you saw me now, you probably wouldn’t believe I ever had a problem with food. But for me, every day and every meal can still be a battle.
I started to develop an Eating Disorder around the age of fourteen, although I had been unhappy with my weight for most of my childhood. It started with the small things, like skipping lunch at school or eating less fat. But soon it became all consuming. I was losing weight, and losing weight became something I was good at. I was good at hiding it, too. I was a brilliant liar.
During my final year at school, I became severely anorexic. I limited myself to one low calorie meal a day, exercised loads and weighed and recorded myself obsessively. I did really badly in my A Levels (in hindsight I can see that it was because I had stopped feeding my brain) and that pushed me to rock bottom. The feelings of inadequacy took hold. I felt like a failure and that fuelled my illness into being something I was successful at. I started to push the Anorexia further and as I did so, my family started to get concerned. Their daughter/sister/aunt was starving to death and they couldn’t do a thing to stop it. I was taken to the GP against my will, who referred me to a psychiatrist, but by this point, the pathetically small meal plan she suggested was too much.
I kept starving myself, I kept lying, my weight plummeted and for an entire month I didn’t eat a thing. Eventually, I was hospitalised and received specialist treatment, but it took several years before I approached any sort of recovery.
What *is* recovery? For me, it was a small spark of a feeling, that maybe life doesn’t have to be all about food and weight, that grew the more I nurtured it. It’s learning to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. It’s about not punishing yourself anymore for the things you can’t change or control. Mostly though, it’s about a lust and love for life. You cannot have a life and an ED. Eventually, you have to choice which one you want more.
I have done some terrible things in the name of my Eating Disorder. I have stolen food and laxatives, I’ve imported illegal diet pills from the States, I have shouted and screamed and lied and deceived.
There is so much stigma and misconceptions surrounding Eating Disorders. The perception that they’re about how you look rather than how you feel. They’re not about that. They’re about control and anxiety. They’re about trying to succeed at something, even if that something is starving to death. They’re about the fears we all have, amplified.
We all need to start seeing Eating Disorders for what they are and what they do to our minds, rather than how they look and what they do to our bodies.