I found a letter from last year regarding my eating disorder, and it stirred a few thoughts.
There’s no such thing as a severe eating disorder, ALL eating disorders are living hell and the fact that a proffesional claims me to have had a ‘severe‘ eating disorder makes me mad- so what, you think others aren’t severe? No matter what your weight, what your physical conditions, eating disorders are sheer hell. You can’t go out to enjoy yourself with friends, oh no, you must instead do laps around your local neighbourhood when your parents think you are asleep, you must restrict every waking hour to minimal food, you must constantly be agonising over your body.
Now, who are you to label as ‘severe’ or ‘mild’? Have you been through it yourself? No. Then you couldn’t possibly understand.
I’m sick of the macros, I’m sick of the BMIs, I’m sick of being sick of it all.
Why is it that there’s always a competition? If we were all sicker than each other we’d all be dead, simple as.
Strength is not determined by how low your weight got or how long you went without eating, strength is determined by the courage and determination it takes to recover.
Today The Guardian published an article about orthorexia, entitled ‘Ortherxia:when healthy eating turns against you‘. This is a really interesting article that is well worth the read; including an individual’s story, a fitness blogger and a psychiatrist’s opinion and the debate about whether it is its own individual criteria or whether it is part of anorexia.
I believe that it is time othorexia was taken seriously and made a medical criteria along with anorexia and bulimia. It’s time people understood that all food is healthy in moderation, and eating only ‘healthy’ foods is in fact not healthy at all.
2 years, 4 months and 7 days ago I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Since then it’s been a rocky journey- 9 months, 20 days spent inpatient/ then day patient at the Priory EDU (Eating Disorders Unit), and many more days off school. Meals cried over, tantrums thrown, friendships broken. Exercise obsessive, no calories uncounted.
Depression gripping me and blinding me
– I thought I’d never see the light.
But somehow I’ve muddled my way through and I’m still here today, fighting hard as ever. Today is the day my journey carries on by myself, I am discharged from CAHMS/ YPEDS as of today!
I’m going to be honest, being discharged is absolutely terrifying and many tears have been shed. But I know, deep down, it is a good thing. It’s time for me to continue by myself, to use the skills I’ve learnt and to overcome my demons once and for all. It’s hard having my safety net taken away from me, it’s hard having to say goodbye to my psychologist who I adore, it’s hard not being ‘ill’ anymore. But those things will remain hard no matter how long I stay; letting go is sometimes the hardest thing of all, but it has to be done.
So much has changed during these last nearly 2 1/2 years. And though I always feel I could have done better or I’ve let myself down, it’s days like this where I have to acknowledge how far I’ve come.
A girl who cried and refused her meals, who would think of any way possible to hide or restrict her food, who would go on long walks while on ‘bed-rest’, who would even spit out her own saliva in a desperate bid to shed any weight she possibly could. A girl who was so distraught by the numbers on the scale that she cut her skin. A girl so riddled with depression that she no longer enjoyed anything anymore- her hobbies and interests soon redundant. Cold, alone, scared and isolated.
Now that girl is fast disappearing, replaced instead with a vision of hope. If you look closely there are traces of her- traces that will one day be gone entirely. Of course, she will never forget what she went through. The pain and torture, but also her endurance and determination.
As today draws to an end, I am left thinking about my journey: how far I’ve come and also how far I have yet to go. The reality is that there is still some journey, but it’s time like this where I have to focus on how far I’ve come rather than just how far I’ve got to go.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have friends and family supporting me through my illness, but I know many aren’t so lucky. People are quick to judge mental health: ‘attention seeking’, ‘freak’, they say. But in reality we are no different to you- we’re just a bit lost and need a hand to guide us into the light.
Never be afraid to reach out, both to those struggling or if you are struggling yourself. Have a broken friendship? Try fixing it before you give up into desperation. Live your life to the full and don’t let your eating disorder or mental health condition live your life for you.
Thanks for reading and supporting me on my journey through blogging.
Sometimes it is hard to capture in words exactly how I feel.
You know the saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’? Well I couldn’t agree more.
After a particularly upsetting day yesterday, I decided to let my feelings out not through self destructive behaviours, not through words, but through taking photos.
I’m going to put a trigger warning here because you can see my ‘spine’, although only because of the position I am in.
This, to me, symbolises anorexia.
The bare back turned away, vulnerable. Caught in a corner with nowhere to turn. No-one and nothing but anorexia. The hunched position, the fear and desperation. That is anorexia.
Anorexia is not this glamorised thing you see on ‘pro-ana’ sites or Tumblr. It is a life threatening and devastating illness. I’ve been in recovery for two years now, and still in some respects I am deep within its grasp. It is hard to let go, hard to do normal things and go about everyday life.
I wish more people understood and accepted that recovery from mental illnesses are not easy. I always feel pressure on me to recover and stop needing therapy. One of my biggest fears is not being able to connect with people, so when people don’t understand me it sends me into panic. Yet so few people do understand me. How can I expect others to understand me when I don’t understand myself?
I am trying, and I will not stop trying until I am through this illness.
For a few blissful months I was weight restored, doing well and hardly thinking about food. I was exercising sensibly, and for enjoyment. Now that frame of mind seems unreachable. But if I have done it once I can and will do it again. That is what I keep telling myself.
Stop saying tomorrow and start saying now. That is what I need to do. I need to get my life back.
As some of you might have noticed, I completely failed the A-Z Blogging Challenge this year.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t signed up because hate failing, giving up or quitting. But maybe that exact reason is why it’s so important that I did it.
I am currently sitting my AS Level examinations, the first year/ part of the two-year A level course in the UK. It’s hardly surprising that I found writing a blog post each day and revising 4 subjects, going to school, practicing the flute for my grade 7 exam, climbing and horse riding too much.
My mother often says I stretch myself too thin. And maybe she’s right, but at the same time I don’t know how else to be. This is me, I am that person who is always doing ten things at once; who’s life is a precarious juggling act that only she can control.
I love writing blog posts, I enjoy it and it gives me a sense of purpose. It makes me sad that I have to prioritise exams, which I need to do in order to get to the university I want and to get to where I want to be in life. I think it’s crazy how much pressure is put on 16-18 years olds. These exams essentially decide the rest of our lives. That’s ridiculous! No one needs that sort of pressure. No wonder so many young people and teenagers get mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
At our school we’re taught from a young age that in order to succeed in life you must get a degree and go to a good university. That’s just not true.
I’m on half term now and have done 5 out of 8 exams. 3 more the week after half term then I’m done! I shall be writing more blog posts and posting at least a few times a week, and you never know I might have time to socialise and enjoy myself too!
Thank you for reading and I’ll be posting again soon.
Positivity is important. No one can feel positive all the time, and in recovery it can be rare, so when the moment comes we need to try our best to remember what that felt like.
On Thursday I had my birthday party (I turned 17 on Monday), and it was after my party I had a rare moment of absolute satisfaction and positivity.
So I recorded it , I jotted it down like I was speaking excitedly to a friend. And that’s what I thought I’d share with you today. Sheer, genuine, in the moment positivity and appreciation for life and recovery.
“I had such a fab time at my party! Felt a bit ill towards the end of it but never mind. And do you know what? I ate loads, like loads to a normal person not just to me. I had crepes, a milkshake, pizza, a slice of birthday cake.. And do you know what? I’m still alive, I’m still ok, I haven’t exploded! My stomach is round and content with food. It’s full. And full is good, full means my body can get to work on any repairs it has to do! Full means my body can learn that I’m not going to starve it any longer. More importantly, today taught me that there is more to life than an eating disorder, there really is. Laughing and chatting with friends, being loud and eating in front of people and actually, you know what?, not caring. Because I couldn’t have had such a good time without food, if I hadn’t eaten it would have been awkward for them and for me. And what’s better than watching a film with a bunch of friends and a pizza on a paper plate? What’s better than laughing at charades with your friends? Yes it was quite loud and challenging for anxiety etc, and I received some absolutely amazing presents and I love them so so much, but it’s hard for me to get presents so that was a challenge to. But I did it, and I’m ok with that.
I don’t know, I just feel so positive right now. Like maybe I do have a place, maybe I can recover and live a full life. I want every day to be like today, challenging but full of purpose and fun.
Only recovery can get you here, only recovery can allow you these opportunities. I couldn’t be gladder that I’ve stuck with recovery, even through darker times where I’ve nearly lost hope. Please remember that, there is always hope. And where there is hope, there is determination, and with determination you will get there.”
I really recommend jotting down moments of inspiration like this, because reading back on it can be so helpful and inspiring and can help pull you up from dark and difficult moments.
Today I am not feeling particularly great, so I’m reading that and trying to remember how it felt. I’ve learnt to live for these moments. They may be few for now, but you never know, one day my life could be full of them. I just have to get there.
Recovery. Is it easy?
No. In fact, it is the hardest thing I have experienced in my life so far.
I may only be 16 but I often feel much older than my age, I’ve had to mature quickly and realise that if I don’t fight my very hardest and harder then I will not beat anorexia. And eventualy that will lead to death. Now that is a harsh and horrible thing to learn and have to accept at age 14/15.
When I’m struggling, people often say to me “No one said this would be easy”… But no one said it would be this hard either.
In my mind I think I had hoped it would be quick. I first imagined it would be a few months maybe, then everything would be back to normal. I hadn’t considered that 2 years on I could still be fighting the very same battle.
When I’m feeling lost, hopeless and in doubt (which unfortunatley is often), I tell myself this: the most worthwhile things in life are often the most challenging.
So with that in mind off I set on my journey.
And here I am today. Still on that very same journey. Still battling various mental health issues. Still fighting.
No, it isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to be impossible either.
Determination, motivation and support will become your best friends in recovery. You just have to learn how to use them to conquer the evils.