My battle with Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa
"An eating disorder is a powerful illness. It corrupts the minds of the most beautiful individuals and makes them feel the opposite.” Jane* has chosen to speak out about her personal battle with anorexia and bulimia nervosa, hoping to give encouragement to anybody out there suffering, especially during Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
“I was always a curvy girl, chubby when I was younger, but I was completely in proportion in my teens. I loved food, I loved socialising, I loved being me. However my obsession with numbers took over my life after receiving comments about my weight. I am not saying that this was the only cause of my illness; I had several. But that was the point where I can specifically remember changing my eating habits in a desperate attempt to control my weight. I began purging (making myself sick) after meals and making excuses to go to the toilet after or during meals. I felt like I had control. But I didn’t, in fact, I had the complete opposite. I then began obsessively exercising and restricting in a bid to ‘burn off’ the little I had consumed. I felt powerful and in a sense, clever. My nails were brittle, my skin was dry, my joints suffered and the purging resulted in a ruptured oesophagus.
Anorexia had taken control
"It pulled me and everyone close to me down to rock bottom. Before long, I cut back completely on my daily intake. I went on holiday that year with my best friend, my mum and my dad. That was when I recognised I had a problem. For many months I had shrugged off comments about my eating habits from several worried friends, convinced my parents I didn’t have a problem, but that holiday confirmed everything everybody was thinking. I would make excuses to stay in at night, go to bed in the day, shiver in 30-degree heat and buy children’s meals. At this point my parents were frantic with worry; they put it down to exam stress, however this was far from the truth.
"When we returned from the holiday, I was seriously ill. I was afraid of food. I was afraid of water, of what it might do to me. I would refuse anything put in front of me, and became extremely weak. I was unable to walk up the stairs without having a break half way through. I had internal, external and emotional problems that hadn’t been addressed and I was losing myself. My sodium and potassium levels were dangerously low and I was rapidly going downhill. I knew I needed help but I was too afraid, too ashamed. I saw my dad cry for the first time in my life. He lost his smile, my mum did too.
"That was my changing point. I decided to accept the help offered to me and started day care treatment at Priory Hospital Altrincham. My first day in treatment was hell; I cried, I felt hopeless and I wanted to disappear. I was ill and I needed help. I finally agreed to commence treatment with the day care programme two days a week and create achievable goals that would help to save my life.
I will not be defeated
"My battle with an eating disorder, who I have named ‘Cruella’, has been a massive rollercoaster. Cruella and I are two separate people. She is ugly, she brings me down and she bullies me. But I am strong, I am beautiful and I am the winner - I truly believe that. Her messages are still there, they are still hurtful, but they are getting quieter and quieter. I am not fully recovered, but I will not be defeated. I am now eating three meals and three snacks a day and I am starting to go out with my friends more. My parents are getting their little girl back; they’re smiling again, and so am I.
"My message to anybody out there who is either suffering with an eating disorder or is worried about a loved one who may have an eating disorder, there is hope. I have experienced the lowest of low moods and I never believed anyone when they said it would all be okay, but I have finally realised they were speaking the truth. And I hope you believe me too. My biggest ask is that you seek professional help; it is the hardest, the bravest and the biggest step to regaining your life, even if you tip-toe at first. It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever. You can do it. Never give up.”
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.