‘Attention seeker’, ‘diet gone wrong’, ‘stick insect’, ‘grow up’. I’ve heard these all before, how apparently I am crying out for attention, on a diet gone wrong to become a stick insect and to get better I must grow up. I’ve heard it all before, and every time I hear one of those, or one of the other derogatory comments, not showing understanding but showing misinterpretation I would like to cry.
I am currently recovering from the Eating Disorder Anorexia Nervosa. I have suffered now for 2 ½ years. I was first diagnosed in December 2011, and now I am slowly trying to put the pieces of my life back together, trying to block out the Eating problems. It began as a desire to lose weight. I had lost some weight already healthily but it gradually became a quest for control, to be perfect and give off the impression of strength and grace. I have always been a perfectionist, and that was never helped by demanding parents, from school and from myself. Both parents putting pressure on my sister and I to achieve the best grades, with the best extra curriculars. My mother working several jobs and on a course to improve her own development meant that I had a lot of pressure from all around me, and that is something I used to then put on myself.
I started to lose weight to become a better singer and a dancer, and by the end I had set myself lots of goals. It started off with lose a kilogram and soon morphed into lose as much weight as possible, be the thinnest I could be. I honestly thought that I just needed to lose more and more, the more I lost, and the happier I would be. So I did. But when I looked in the mirror I was never thin enough. I could see someone who was never thin enough despite what others said. I was not thin enough for hospital treatment even though I was being seen regularly by the doctors. They asked me how I was and I lied, saying I was feeling better. I learnt to trick the scales, I learnt to trick the doctors and say the right things, when in fact I was losing more and more weight and spiralling out of what control I clung onto. Friends expressed concern and the family I saw asked me if I was ok, expressing that I was looking thinner and gaunter. I told them that I was fine, when in fact I just wanted to lose more weight, and be even thinner. I lied to people about food, how much exercise I had done, and finally how I felt inside and then hated myself after, self deprecating myself as I had hurt and lied to others.
I had claimed recovery for a year before I actually believed it. I just maintained a weight, eating small portions, rather than not at all. I felt like I could honestly get away with anything, and I really could, no one could see the fear inside my mind. Every time I wanted to tell people, I felt like that friends and family would not care, so I kept it inside. Asking for help, was like a cardinal sin, why should they after all bother about me? With recovery, I am slowly starting to love myself again, taking care of myself. I am learning to eat all the foods I cut out for so long. I still struggle with simple foodstuffs, and there are days I just don’t want to eat, because I could be thin again. I really do want to go back to that way of life sometimes. But with recovery has come energy – I was no longer as lethargic, or ill as I was. I am no longer as frail, and I have begun to feel again. Without the depression or the numbness from Anorexia, I am allowing myself to feel pride, happiness and hope.
Anorexia nervosa was not a diet gone wrong, and I did not need to grow up. I did not need male attention, nor was I wanting to be a stick insect but instead I was a young lady struggling for control in a world where structure, where control, and perfection were slowly melting away from me. With recovery, I have had to learn to cope with times like these, and it is really hard. Learning to eat again is a challenge, though learning to love myself again, was much more of a challenge and one which I hope will get easier in time.
Written by Sitara, @sky_blue_roses on Twitter