What is Anorexia?

A classmate from sixth form asked if I could write a brief piece about anorexia for a class she was teaching. I thought it would be useful to share here too.

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Anorexia is a toxic friend. At first, when it comes into your life, you think you’ve found the answer to your problems. The bullies at school will stop if you start losing weight quickly. You’ll be more attractive and people will like you more. People will talk to you as a person rather than walk away in disgust because you take up too much room. So when you let anorexia into your life, you think you’ve found a great way out, a great way to escape and solve all your problems.

But then things change. You realise that this illness, the anorexia that you thought was your friend, is now sucking the life out of you. You can’t stop losing weight. You feel guilty if even one bit of food passes your lips. You can’t stop counting calories and obsessing over how much you way. You lose all self-esteem and you become a shell of the person you once were. You’re fragile, you can’t think straight. You want to stop but you can’t. Anorexia has become toxic and it’s become an addiction. You know it’s wrong and you want to stop, but anorexia is too strong and you’re too weak. Soon enough you lose your muscles, you lose the ability to go out by yourself for fear of fainting, you’re cold even in the summer when it’s boiling outside. You can’t do what everyone else is. You can’t go out and have fun because you have become your anorexia.

Five years ago, I decided to make the decision to recover from anorexia. It had stolen two whole years of my life and I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice any more of my life for this illness. I got angry at the eating disorder. All my friends were having fun, partying and being usual teenagers. Me? I was spending summer in hospital. That anger fuelled something inside of me. I just thought one day, ‘I’m not doing this anymore’ and that was the spark that ignited my recovery. I started eating and didn’t look back. My main reason was that I wanted to go out with my friends, I wanted to realise my dream and go to university. And I simply couldn’t do that if I was still in the throes of anorexia. Like a toxic relationship, I cut anorexia out of my life. I’ve never looked back. Now, five years later, I have a degree, a job and I’m happy and healthy. There is life after an eating disorder. Never give up hope or believe that you can’t get through it because trust me, you can. When I was anorexic, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t think I could live an anorexia-free life. But it gets better and there is so much more to life than eating disorders.

Kate Moss made headlines for saying ’nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’. She may truly believe that, but it’s too much of a price to pay. You need food to fuel your lifestyle and just maintain your internal organs and brain. Food is the medicine that keeps everything inside our bodies functioning and working as it should. You know what feels better than being skinny? Being alive.

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Triggered

TW: verbal abuse, depression, anxiety, self-harm

I decided a while back that not only was this going to be a journalism blog, it was also going to service as a personal blog. Right now I’ve been triggered madly and I need to get this out of my system.

Today was going alright. I was chasing up some stuff to do with the company I used to work for and also deciding what to do today. I had a clear ‘to do’ list and I was confident that I could get through it.

I have online counselling for my depression and anxiety so I thought I’d do one of the modules as you’re supposed to try and do one a week. I got through the module and felt pretty depressed afterwards. The modules are designed to make you really think about your current circumstances and challenge your behaviours and feelings towards them but sometimes it can be pretty triggering. I told my mum I felt sad and she tried to talk to me, asking what she could do to help. I told her she couldn’t and that the feeling should pass but I just needed to focus on my ‘to do’ list and keep busy.

My dad didn’t overhear that I was feeling particularly depressed today but you could clearly see that I was down. I was saying in the hallway that I felt like an abandoned puppy. He yelled at me for not being ‘dressed’ in case the courier delivered my package. I was actually in my lounge-wear: some trackies and a top. I didn’t know I had to get out my best LBD to answer the goddamn door to a courier person.

I felt a little shitty after that. I spoke to mum whilst she laced up her trainers and then my dad shouted angrily, ‘she has to phone the company and chase up outstanding issues’. My mum jumped in to defend me, telling him that I’d done that as soon as I’d gotten out of the shower and thrown some clothes on. I said to him I’d already done it because I knew it was important. He then proceeded to tell me I was so stupid that he thought I was incapable of doing anything correctly and by myself. I was stupid for losing my job and I wouldn’t feel so depressed if I’d kept my job. He didn’t know I’d made the call because I was just too stupid and incompetent to do anything right.

Mum was appalled. She has to keep the peace until he goes to India this week so I know she won’t say anything, but I’m prepping myself for a fight. When they left the house, I broke down crying. I was already feeling worthless and miserable and that’s just added to it.

I wanted to self-harm. I haven’t felt the desire to self-harm in a long, long time. I haven’t self-harmed in even longer than that. The only thing keeping me from doing it is that I’m getting tattoos done this week and I might be getting one done on my forearm, which is where I usually self-harm. I don’t want to jeopardise my tattoos. These thoughts are extremely invasive though. I’m trying to be strong at the moment but I just want to cry and hurt myself.

I honestly wasn’t going to rock the boat before dad’s trip to India. I was going to be the bigger person and bite my tongue but I just can’t. I’ve had enough of being verbally abused.