Sunday, 16 April 2017
Serious Sunday - How I Beat Anorexia
I warn you now, this post could be potentially triggering to anyone who has suffered or is still suffering from this awful illness, I feel in my heart everything you are struggling with, and I pray this post will help you to realise that it is possible to strive, recover, and live again.
When I was 8, I was shopping with my auntie. I tried on a skirt I loved, and came out of the changing room thinking it looked awesome. My aunt took one look and said; "Have you ever heard 'does my bum look big in this?'" This was the first day I thought of my weight as a bad thing.
When I was 12, I was taking our mandatory swimming class in P.E, and sitting on the edge of the pool a classmate of mine turned to me and whispered; "Your fatty bits are hanging out of your bikini." Every swimming lesson thereafter I skipped, never setting foot in a swimming pool, or even a bikini, ever again.
When I was 14, I threw up every day before school. I emptied full plates of food into the bin and claimed I had eaten it all. I would stand naked in front of the mirror and punch myself in the stomach, willing it to just go away.
When I was 15, I walked into my drama class, took off my cardigan, and heard people behind me whispering about how they could see my spine through my shirt. I felt a sick pride.
Between 16 and 17 I lived mostly on one plate of pasta a day, and the occasional treat of french toast, or chicken nuggets. Some days, though, I would binge. God, would I binge. Until my stomach was swollen and I was crying on the bathroom floor with pain. I weighed little more than 6 stone, or 84 lbs.
I have deleted all pictures of me from before I was 18, but I have found one from the summer of 2013 that appears to have slipped through my cleansing. I was 17 here, had ratty extensions because I believed they made me look less ill, and I had cut all my hair off the year before to hide the fact it was falling out, and I was wearing caked on makeup to hide the fact I hadn't slept in four days. I was about 90 lbs here.
I bruised easily, I was exhausted just spending time in my living room with my friends, I wouldn't leave the house, and I didn't eat in a restaurant until I was 18. But, I felt pretty. I felt like this is what people wanted me to look like. THIS was the idea of beauty I had in my head.
This was not beautiful. This was my hair falling out, my nails were brittle, my skin was grey and almost translucent, my teeth were weak and yellowing, this was not having a period for a year. This was not beauty, this was my body fighting to keep itself alive, when all my mind wanted was to keep losing weight until, eventually, I would just disappear. I started therapy this year after a brief hospital stay.
Christmas of 2014, and I was a year into therapy that I loved. My therapist was a dear, dear friend of mine, and sadly he passed away in October 2016. I am still very close friends with his daughter, who he brought over one session to get me out of the house and go on a walk with. I miss him dearly. He is the reason I started getting better. He suggested the medications I'm still on. I remember taking this selfie and thinking "Damn, I look good." I was just hitting 7 stone, 98 lbs.
It's ridiculous how much better I felt when I took this photo of myself. My body looked feminine, I had a hint of a figure, and I. Felt. Amazing.
2015 came around, and right from the start things got better. Starting with a trip to New York where I tried food I would never have dreamt of eating had I been at home. Sugar! Carbs! Who cared! I ate it all. I tried greek food, I tried sushi, I tried crepes! I came home with a new sense of life, of who I wanted to be, of who I was. I felt honestly, truly happy for the first time in years.
By September 2015, I looked like a real woman. I felt like a real woman. I had started eating full, proper meals. I hadn't made myself sick in over a year. I had started getting regular periods again, and while my doctors still classed me as underweight, I wasn't in danger anymore, and I was learning how to appreciate my body for what it was. Beautiful.
2016 was a year of struggle. My mental health declined again, therefore my weight dropped again. I instinctively link my eating habits to my mental health, so when I start to feel like things are getting out of control, I would control my eating. I would restrict myself when I felt bad, which was a lot of the time, to make myself feel like I had some kind of hint of control. I didn't take a lot of full body photos, because the trauma I had put my body through in the past was catching up to me, and all the illnesses I had been hiding were finally diagnosed. The aches and pains I had been feeling since I was 15 were finally put down to fibromyalgia, and once I had an idea of what my body was doing, I learned how to deal with it, and things got better.
Now, it's 2017, I'm 21, and I am a woman. A real, curvy, working, somewhat mentally sound, woman.
There were times over the last 7 years when I tried to end things, when I felt like I couldn't do it anymore, like I was finished. I spent weeks upon weeks in my bed. Hours and hours, perhaps even days, spent crying on the floor of a bathroom.
Now? I look like this;
And I have never felt happier, healthier, or more beautiful.
Thank you for reading, I hope this gives you some hope that if you are suffering, things get better.
As always... I'll see you next time, then.