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.