I was four when I first called myself fat. I can remember the moment distinctly, staring in front of a mirror in front of my Mum, asking why my hips were large. I had always been above average when it comes to my weight, as well as my anxiety levels.
I was eleven when I began to starve myself and obsessively exercise. Going from a weight that was obese to one that was healthy within a matter of months.
I was fourteen when I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Hospitalised by my medical team as they feared my body going into a coma or cardiac arrest.
I am sixteen now and have had numerous admissions for restoring weight. I have abused my body to cope with my mind.
What has driven this self-hatred is a question I am always asked. There are millions of possible reasons for the development of an eating disorder but for me it was anxiety. Anxiety, the horrendous illness, thats presence in my life can only be explained by looking into my childhood. It developed then and I haven’t been able to shake it off since. The anxiety sought safety in stability and perfection and when it wasn’t met all hell broke loose.
Hell breaking loose happened often. Stability wasn’t present in both my childhood and my early adolescence due to familial and financial circumstances.
Perfection an idea that is entirely ridiculous and unachievable was something that was constantly drilled in my mind from a young age. I find that this was derived from both my biology and my environment. I admit I am a type a personality, born and bred. I am always wanting to better myself and beat my previous achievements. The society in which we live in made this part of me thrive and lead me into an unhealthy obsession – weight loss.
Subconsciously, I associated weight loss with achievement. How could I not? When I saw it in every magazine I read, a person smiling as they lost half their body weight on a ridiculous amount of calories and exercise. Our culture is disordered in itself. The diet industry is worth billions and I can assure you that it has cost people billions as well. A healthy life should never be about how a person can lose ‘four kgs in a week’, this is nothing short of unachievable and unattainable. Health is about balance not about starvation.
With weight loss, I thought I could achieve perfection, as well as feeling that some part of my life was in control as I had the power of what I put in my mouth. In turn, I thought that if I was perfect, my life would get better. If I was perfect the hollowing feeling of anxiety, that then had developed into depression as well would submerge. I admit that my anxiety over my life was numbed by malnourishment, however anxieties overeating were created and a new voice roared in my head. Every moment I had a voice telling me that I was worthless and inadequate, so much so that I didn’t deserve to eat.
The slow but steady path of self-destruction was brought to a halt when I was fourteen. I was taken to my General Practitioner by my worried parents one day and then put in the hospital a few weeks after. I would come out of the hospital and then lose all the weight I had gained and more, my brain had been used to nothing but weight loss for three years and no addiction goes easily.
New diagnoses, medication and more admissions came and kept coming until I came to terms with the mental struggles that need to be dealt with in recovery from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not just about weight, in fact, I have been most mentally unwell when I was far from my lowest weight.
I chose recovery on the 3rd of January, 2017. A day I was told that even though I was in hospital again there was no guarantee that I would survive. I had lost weight and I was no where near happy, my presumptions that numbers would bring me happiness was never met. Instead of continuing on this path, I embraced the help from my medical team and therapy; beginning to work on the underlying issues of my eating disorder. It’s a mental illness and restoring weight isn’t the only part of recovery.
Eating disorders are serious illnesses, they aren’t just the simple choice to eat or not to. If they were that easy I would be living a totally different life to what I am now. I am striving towards that life everyday, I have setbacks regularly which is a part of recovery.
I am on a journey to cope with the fear I have had over instability and perfection.
I am on a journey to not cope with negative feelings without disordered habits and rituals.
I am on a journey to live with courage instead of fear and that shit is hard.
It is possible though…
Recovery Is Always Possible
Living a life not ruled by your fears is possible too.