Picture the scene: I’m sitting here, in my bed, in my size 10-12 nighty eating large quantities of Pink Panther wafers (you know those little pink ones from when you were a kid?) This would just not have happened even a year ago. I’ve just put away more food in one sitting than I would have in over a week (maybe even two) this time last year.
Is this progress?
Well, maybe not. I’m still having the internal battle with myself. I still feel guilty with every mouthful and I still plan on fasting to lose the weight when I’ve gone ‘too far.’ Yes, I am still a ‘psychological’ anorexic.
Truthfully (and realistically), I will eventually end up starving myself again. I’ve never been big, not by normal people’s standards and I don’t know if I could cope with being any bigger than I am now, I’m just not that far advanced with my recovery yet. I’m currently on the larger side of a size 10; I’ve never been this big and I torture myself for it every second of every day. Instead of eating healthily (because I am an all or nothing girl), I eat loads of crap and think ‘I’ll deal with the weight gain later.’ I know I will, so I sort of think it’s ok to be ‘fat’ for a little while.
I’m perfectly aware that I think destructively. One thing I have made progress with is that I now accept that anorexia is not normal, nor is it healthy. But a part of me never wants to let go of it. It’s my ‘thing,’ my coping mechanism when everything else turns to shit. I use it when I’m stressed, depressed and unhappy with my life. For me, starving myself is control.
But the thing is, I was once in denial about my illness. I didn’t even think it was an illness, I thought the way everyone else eats is abnormal and I was the healthy one; I was the one with control. I had to be perfect and stop at nothing; I had to get thin at all costs.
Before I got ill, which was when I was 12 or 13, I admired anorexics. I thought they were beautiful and I thought they had a great deal of strength and self-preservation. Now I just see sad, desperate women and men and I feel so terrible for them because I know their pain.
For a long time- I can’t deny it-having an eating disorder gave me everything I expected and wanted from it. I was able to hide away from my troubles at home, the bullying, the stress of school, and of course the self-hatred. When I started to meet my weight goals I felt so good and proud of myself, and when I did get thin I gained a confidence I had been lacking in before.
None of that lasted long. Anorexia is a gruesome illness, both mentally and physically and it destroyed me from the inside out, eventually, just as it does everyone else.
When I was 16- when I got really bad- my period stopped. I started to grow soft, downy hair on my body because I had no flesh left to keep me warm. My teeth started crumbling and I lost one entirely which is now a reconstructed silver tooth, a constant reminder. For a period of time I stopped going to school because I was far too weak to even leave my bed. My parents had no idea how to deal with the problem so they just left me to it and I had no one to motivate me to get better. I was secretive about my illness then (as well as being in denial) so I just told my teachers and everyone at school that I had some ongoing physical ailment.
I eventually became a complete recluse. Half of the time I didn’t want to go anywhere that involved food in case I got temped, be it the supermarket, in the school dinner hall or at a friend’s house. Apart from that I was terribly depressed and just wanted to be alone. I spent a lot of time browsing pro-anorexia forums and taking others’ advice on how to ‘stay strong.’
This went on and on until literally this time last year (2014). The last time I starved myself I didn’t eat for 10 days. I practically had a heart attack when I took my sedating medication on such an empty stomach; every night I took it I couldn’t even move around in my bed for fear that my heart would explode.
But something changed after that. I had the odd week here and there when I would starve myself but it was nothing like before, and the desire wasn’t as strong.
I have been in many different relationships and no man has ever been able to change me. The men in my life always seem to take it personally and think it’s their fault for not making me happy enough, my last relationship even ended partly because of my ongoing eating disorder. But I don’t think it quite amounts to that.
I think the relationship I am in now, and have been for 6 months, definitely had an influence on my current remission. But I don’t think that’s because he makes me happy (which of course he does), I think it’s more about changing the person I was a year ago to who I am now. My current boyfriend doesn’t have a shallow or vain bone in his body and so I’ve finally learned that not everything is about being perfect and there are far more important things in life.
Anorexia for me wasn’t all about being thin, but I’ve also learned there are other things I can do to deal with stress, in a less destructive way.
In a very backwards way, falling ill (physically) has done me a favour in that fighting this problem and living a long life is much more important than staying thin, for now.