My Story, In Prose – by Sarah

Today I am sharing a story. One of sadness, true, but also determination and triumph. This story is not my own, but Sarah’s. Sarah is an inspirational young person and a fighter against anorexia. I hope that you find Sarah’s story as gripping and wonderfully written as I did, as well as it allowing you insight into what it’s like to live with an eating disorder.

My Story, In Prose
By: Sarah
Instagram: @oatsosarah
Written 8/24/2015

August, 2012

Sarah is thirteen and Sarah is fat.

Those are two things that Sarah knows with absolute certainty.

At the doctor’s office, that fateful day in late August, Dr. G says, “Sarah, you are off of your growth charts. Sarah, you must lose weight. Sarah, you must eat less. Start exercising. Something must change”.
And Sarah changed, oh yes they did!

Autumn, 2012

Sarah’s best friends are slim. Athletic. And so are their classmates! In fact, Sarah can count the number of fat people in their school on the fingers of one hand. Sarah only ever wanted to fit in.

“Daily Caloric Intake Calculator
Age? 13.
Height? 5’4”
Weight? xxx lbs.
Goal Weight? xxx lbs.”

It spit back a number and heaven help us, that number was Sarah’s life!

Winter/Spring, 2013

The shower’s water is hot on Sarah’s back but Sarah feels cold inside in an odd, icky, not-so-good way. Brown smoke clouds Sarah’s vision and they nearly fall. Panic. Panic everywhere, and Sarah can’t see!

“I can’t see!” Sarah shouts, hands clutching grey walls. “Help, I can’t see!”

Their mother comes, wraps them in a towel. Spots, static, in front of Sarah’s eyes and a burning pressure right behind them.

“I’ll get you some orange juice? Maybe you’re hungry,” The words cut like knives. Heartless attempt at kindness, that is. Offering her child ORANGE JUICE, while that child is on a DIET?

It’s a waste of calories, Sarah.

“No thanks, I’m fine.”

“Sarah, you are eating /something/.”

Sarah picks up the smallest clementine they can find from the bowl in the kitchen.

“I’m fine.”

Spring, 2013

It’s all your fault, Sarah. Just because it was your mother’s birthday dinner did not mean that you had to eat that. Or THAT. What were you thinking, you fucking fatty? Of course you’ve gained weight since this morning. Of course. Because you fucking pigged out tonight, that’s why! Go. Go do laps and TRY to burn off all the weight you’ve gained. FUCKING FATSO.

Pacing, pacing into the dark, and then jogging, breaking into a run, again and again laps around the house, around the yard, uphill and downhill and uphill again. Sarah tastes bile, sweat drenches their face.

The scale reads lower and Sarah nearly collapses with relief.

Nearly, because only lazy pigs sit down for no reason.

Summer, 2013

Sarah is an overachiever and thus, has decided to take an advanced summer course at school. For the students in the summer session, the dining hall staff were kind enough to cater lunches for the summer session students.

Hot fudge sundae bar! Two of Sarah’s friends, who also opted to take the class, are excited. They rush to the bar— aren’t you going with them, Sarah? They have dark chocolate chips, after all!

Sarah drags themselves up, tears waiting anxiously behind their eyes, ready to run in an instant.

You’re stronger than this, Sarah. Look at you, worthless monster. You’re giving in. Stop. Stop. Stopstopstop.

Sarah gets a small bowl of vanilla ice cream. Passes the dark chocolate chips without a second glance.

Upon arriving home, they begin to exercise, and continue into perpetuity.

August, 2013

“Sarah, look at you! You’ve lost xx lbs! Look at how healthy you are!”

Sarah is healthy. Sarah is healthy.

First day of school, 2013

Sarah, you look so good!
Any tips? C’mon, spill!
Look how SKINNY you’ve gotten!
Wow, way to get in shape!
I’m so inspired by your self control!
Man, you’ve lost a ton of weight!

Autumn, 2013

Sarah’s not studying enough, Sarah has to get up at 4:30 am to study. They can study till 6:30 and then leave for school at 7:30 and still make it on time.

On the weekends, why isn’t Sarah studying for 8 hours a day? Wait, they do? Okay, what about 10? Do you have anything /better/ to do, Sarah? NO. Studying is all you’re good for, after all.

100%.

A+.

You want to get into an Ivy, don’t you! You need to actually work, not sit on your lazy ass all day.

Sarah’s mother is concerned.
“Sarah, why does it take you an hour to eat your oatmeal every night?”
“Sarah, aren’t you healthy already? Why are you only eating x calories a day?”
“Sarah, when will your diet be over?”

November, 2013 Continue reading

Fundraising for Beat

This Sunday I am going to be running a 5km obstacle course to raise money for Beat.
As is obvious from this blog, this charity is very close to my heart and means a lot to me as it is raising awareness and also offering help to both sufferers and families all over the UK who struggle with eating disorders.

It’s easy to raise money, there are so many possible fundraising activities you can do- raising money but also having a whole lot of fun in the process. You can do cake sales, sponsored runs, walks or cycles, discos, sell handmade cards- you name it!

I have had so much help for my eating disorder over the last two years, which I am eternally grateful for. It feels absolutely wondertful to be able to give something back.

So far I have raised over £200, which is over my original goal of £150!

If you would like to sponsor me please visit my JustGiving page.

I have posted fundraising updates on both my personal Instagram and Facebook which was quite a challenge as I explained that I had suffered from an eating disorder, but people have been so supportive I couldn’t be more thankful. Asking people to sponsor me is also a great oppeetunity to explain what it’s really like to have an eating disorder. Being open about mental health is hard, but I will always try my best to be open because that way we can break stigma and make it easier for the future generations to talk about mental health.

Together we can beat eating disorders.

Thanks for reading.

Freya raising awareness

One of the only positive things that has come out of having this illness is meeting some of my best friends. My time as an inpatient in an adolescent eating disorders unit was hard, but the friends I made are friends for life.

One of them, Freya Chandler, is a Beat Media Volunteer and has recently done an interview for the BBC. In it she makes some really important points, and she speaks honestly and truthfully about her experience with anorexia- something I think is really brave and important to do. How can we hope to break stigma if we don’t first try to educate people and help them understand?

Her article and video are on BBC Newsbeat website, the Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, and Huffington Post.

She also appeared in the Daily Mail, though they twisted her words and the article was stigmatising and wrong. They just want to make a good story. Well guess what? Eating disorders are hell and should be treated seriously, not just to have a good sounding title. It honestly makes my blood boil.

It’s printed now and what’s done is done. I am angry at the Daily Mail, but so so proud of Freya for being a voice for so many people suffering from this awful illness. The BBC article was incredible and they did a wonderful job at portraying the truth about eating disorders, which I couldn’t be more grateful for.

Some of my favourite quotes from Freya:
“There are triggers everywhere and you just have to learn to build yourself up against them”
“Use the old person not as a motivation to go backwards but an inspiration to move forwards.”

I hope you enjoyed the article,

Thanks for reading.

Anorexia in one picture

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.

Thanks for reading.

P for Positivity

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.

Thanks for reading.

Id, ego and superego

We all have 3 parts of our subconscious: the id, ego and superego.

We are all on a scale, a see-saw if you like, between these values.

First I’ll explain what they are:

  • The id is the part of our subconscious making us want to do all things ‘bad’ and selfish, to get our own way and hurt others if needed.
  • The ego is the part of the mind that evaluates and responds to the id and superego. It is at the centre of our being and weighs-up the strength of the id and superego before any decisions are made.
  • The superego is the part of our subconscious that makes us want to do all things ‘good’ and to please others, to be selfless and self-sacrificing and to always put others first.

Now some of you may be thinking ‘why am I telling you all this’? Well there are actually many psychological evaluations of this that can be quite useful in trying to understand yourself.

The subconscious governs your thoughts which you are not aware of, and sets base ‘morals’ that you rely on and shapes you as a person. Ideally you want to have a fairly even balance of id and superego, that way your needs are met but without being rude or unkind to others.

However, when one or the other is too strong, this is where we get a problem.

When the superego is too strong, the individual starts to feel worthless and lack self esteem. Forever worrying about keeping others happy, they lack the id quality telling them it’s ok to be selfish sometimes. Because they are always doing things for other people, they start to lose who they are themselves. They have low self esteem because of this imbalance which often leads to depression.

Having too strong an id can have equal but opposite undesirable consequences.

This area of psychology is called psychoanalysis and was created by Freud. I hope to add to this post in the future or perhaps add a ‘part 2’ if people are interested, do leave any feedback or comments below it would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

G for Gaining (weight) happiness

Today has been a really challenging day for me. I had weigh in at 2pm this afternoon. For the first time I weeks I gained weight, 0.6kg to be exact.

I haven’t been able to focus on revision for the whole rest of the day because of this. Instead I’ve been busy trying to distract myself while simultaneously trying not to have a breakdown in front of my friend.

Quite honestly, I feel awful. I feel anxious and panicky, I feel low and hopeless, I feel depressed. This isn’t just beacuse about gaining weight today, but it sure as hell didn’t help.

So I thought it was about time I reminded myself of the positives instead of letting my eating disorder and deoression nit-pick all the worst parts.


The truth behind gaining weight: anorexia vs. me

  • Gaining weight will make you fat healthy
  • Eating means you are greedy determined and want your life back
  • Eating is a sign of weakness strength and willpower, eating through pain is hard but you can do it


You get the gist.. Now. What gaining weight will really give you:

  • A healthy body so you have healthy ovaries and can have babies!
  • A smile and laughter that is real.
  • A new chance
  • You’ll worry less people and show them they were right not to give up on you. And if they did give up on you? Well even better do it to prove them wrong. 
  • You can motivate and inspire others, prove that recovery is possible
  • Be that person who defies the odds
  • You’ll have to gain it eventually, so you might as well get it over with!
  • Strength
  • Energy
  • Willpower
  • Proof that you can and will beat your illness

  
A drawing I did on my iPad to remind myself what my real goal is.

An important thing to do in recovery is to set goals.

I don’t mean massive ones, just little things that you can achieve. There is no point setting goals like ‘recover by April next year’, because recovery is not a linear thing. It’s different for everyone and that’s ok. Unfortunately it is likely you will be battling it for a while, but that does not mean you have failed.

Some little goals/ waypoints I’ve set myself are below. I am only just above the weight I am allowed to exercise, so by gaining I am simply making sure I can do the things I love! That’s not so bad huh?


What gaining weight means to me:

  • I can go horse riding and climbing
  • I am a step closer to my goal/ target weight
  • I can go to the amazon in the summer on my expedition!
  • My body can get used to having a regular amount of food and will hopefully be a bit more logical
  • I can go on random walks when I want without my parents worrying about me overdoing the exercise
  • Spend more time outdoors (my favourite place)
  • Become a Beat Media Volenteer after I’ve been out of inpatient for a year (July)
  • Do much more in the future that I don’t even know about yet, I just have to keep fighting so I can take opportunities as the come!


And lastly I ask you this; what would you rather be doing:
Riding a horse with the wind in your face as you canter round the school, better this time than last and with your horse listening to you and enjoying a minty polo afterwards while you laugh and stroke it’s nose?
Or pacing laps round your room where you have been all night to burn calories, freezing cold even though you’ve got lots of layers on.
I know for sure which I’d chose. And that’s recovery.


Thanks for reading.