When I was first asked if I would like to share my story on the Recover Blog, I was extremely reluctant. After all, from the earliest days of my eating disorder, it had started to take control of my life.
I had been told by lecturers at college, my family, and the media (who continually portray women with eating disorders as emaciated individuals) that I didn’t have an eating disorder because I didn’t look anorexic. My health lecturer at college said, “I am sure it is a phase; come back if you feel it is becoming an issue”. I was absolutely distraught because I had finally managed to be honest and tell someone how I was feeling, but apparently I was not ill–it was just “a phase”.
Then my GP–a kind, caring, respected individual–said, “Well, your weight seems okay at the moment.” Once again I was left feeling as if I had been let down by the very people who were supposed to help me. The truth is, if my GP had looked past my exterior, she would have seen a young woman who was already stuck in an unforgiving cycle of bingeing, purging, and restricting.
Eating and purging became normal day-to-day activities for me. Weighing food was my comfort, and only certain foods were to be eaten–unless I was bingeing, when I would eat anything and everything. Bingeing would be followed by laxatives in ever-increasing quantities, until I was using laxatives after anything went past my lips. They became my
“everything” that would make me thin.
I would spend evenings in my room bingeing in solitude. My only companion was the shame, but I enjoyed the momentary comfort of eating. This feeling, however, would be overcome by the fear of what was to follow: long nights spent lying alone on the bathroom floor, crippled with pain from the laxatives coursing through my body. They would empty my disgusting body and help me feel thin again. But I would always return to my customary state of panic and anger at myself for being too weak to starve my loathsome body.
I was desperate for peace, for an escape, for someone to see what was really happening: that I was being eroded away by a monster inside my own head, a monster that would eventually take eight years of my life, countless friendships, birthdays, nights out, and relationships. The years that were meant to be some of the best times of my life.
Eventually I found a place that would accept me and welcome me just as I was–broken and fearful–regardless of my weight, my BMI, or my calorie intake. They listened to me as a whole person and provided me with help, guidance, and unwavering support. The Recover Clinic showed me that what I had spent years searching for–a place, a person, a time, a weight, and a medicine–I would finally find inside myself. I would find the strength to be me and not only accept myself for who I am today but also like that person.
I wanted to share my story because the sad fact is that I am not the only one who has been told that she is not ill because she does not look anorexic. I’m standing up to tell you that being ill with an eating disorder is not about how much you weigh. Cx