I’ve always had a strange relationship with food and weight, but for most of my life I was in denial. I considered it normal to skip meals at school, to compulsively exercise at university and to use starvation to punish myself when I lost my first job. At first I was able to keep most of this a secret, but eventually family and friends started to notice. Tentative comments about my weight loss and strange behaviours were ignored, and I isolated myself more and more.
Eventually I took a chance on real life, and took a holiday to New York with friends. It should have been amazing, but my eating disorder ruined it. It was at this point I realised that I wasn’t just hurting myself, but others too.
After much persuasion I visited the doctor in an attempt to find some answers, and hopefully, some help.
It wasn’t easy to pinpoint the underlying issues. I’d spent years burying them deep inside myself and initially I wanted to keep them locked away. I retreated further into the eating disorder and ended up in hospital, dangerously ill and more confused than ever. A month on a general ward achieved little, and it was only when I was rescued by admission to a specialist clinic, that the hard work truly began.
I had various forms of therapy. Body image, CBT, family work. I talked to staff, I cried and screamed. I used art and writing to explore my feelings. I discovered how complex the eating disorder really was. It was rooted in so many different areas of my life and untangling all the issues was hard work, a creative process of self discovery that I eventually wrote a book about.
At first I wasn’t recovering for me, I was simply putting on a front for others, going through the motions and feigning recovery. But little by little, I found reasons to fight. I wanted to play piano again, to have children, and a career I truly loved. A picnic outside with other patients in the clinic showed me that food could be enjoyed. I kept thinking of things I wanted to try. Goals I wanted to achieve. I dreamed of learning to ride a motorbike, of travelling the world, and of writing a book.
The first two have yet to come, but I have written a book, and I couldn’t have done that without recovery. A healthy body and a healing mind have enabled me to do so much more with life than I ever imagined.
Encouragement for Others
There is lots of advice I could give, but my main message is to have faith. That recovery is possible. That you can achieve it. That this will give you a better chance at life and happiness than an eating disorder ever could. So seek help, everyone deserves help and support. Have hope. Believe in yourself. Because everyone deserves health and happiness.