This, very honest, account was given to me by a dear friend, who I had the pleasure of meeting (albeit through unfortunate circumstances) in 2009. Following our brief meeting a friendship blossomed. Although our lives moved in different directions I tried to stand by the sidelines, aiming to be a constant supporter and encouragement through her ups and downs fighting her illness – and she did the same for me.
Everyone’s journey and experience of an eating disorder is different…This is her account of how her anorexia led to a very serious and shocking wake up call to the dangerous, destructive and deceiving power it was exuding in her life.
This is anorexia, through her eyes…
“I spent years living with the ‘safety’ that anorexia offered me; the rules and rituals that gave me control, the care from others and the drive I feared I would lack without it in my life. Yet at the same time I was living in danger.
On one occasion after an overly active day and too little fuel for my body to cope, I collapsed in the night causing a brain bleed and two broken bones in my arm.
Even when I was in A&E after my fall and saw numerous specialists and GPs, not once was it picked up on that my weight or diet might have been the cause of the problem. I remained oblivious to the danger I was in and consequently deteriorated over the months following my fall before receiving the help that I so desperately needed.
It is worrying that the Medical Profession in general does not seem to have a great deal of ability to detect the early warning signs of individuals who are at risk. The fact that no-one mentioned to me that my fall might have been linked to an Eating Disorder simply fed into my delusion that I didn’t have a problem, after all, the Doctors hadn’t said so. Although I may not have been in the frame of mind to accept that I was on a slippery slope towards full relapse at the time of my fall, I’d like to think that had a Doctor suggested this to me, I may have at least contemplated the idea.
Anorexia has a sly way of making you believe you are invincible, like nothing can stop you. Until something does and the reality comes crashing into your life; like a tsunami wave. Sometimes it takes a ‘crisis’ before you can allow yourself to consider that you are struggling: something to open your eyes to the trauma that your body is going through. But it shouldn’t have to. It has been shown that early detection is key to achieving full recovery, yet it seems that GPs generally are not equipped to do so. Charities, such as B-EAT, work hard to improve knowledge amongst the health service, but unfortunately there is still a long way to go. Early detection would enable costs to be cut to the health services and less admissions to lengthy inpatient and day patient services.
Admitting that you or someone you know may have an eating disorder and seeking help, particularly at the early stages is not a failure, in fact it is probably the, most courageous decision that can be made. However, it is not easy to admit your struggles and even less so to face them head on. For me, it was a case of accepting that although it was not my fault I became unwell, it is my responsibility to fight the illness.
The fear of change was incredibly daunting, however, over time the fear of staying the same; trapped in the tight grasp of anorexia, actually became greater. Anorexia is the enemy. Over time, I started to believe that I actually had the power to overcome it. The anxiety I experienced when I chose to make a stand against my anorexic fears at first was agonising. Perseverance was key and although sitting with uncomfortable emotions is highly unpleasant, now, my anxiety levels are lower than ever. I have not had to fight alone, but I have had to fight with all my strength. It has been hard work, but it is proving to be worth it.
Just over a year after my fall, I am pleased to report that I am now weight restored and can appreciate that the way I have been living for several years was extremely dangerous. I never want to go back to how things were and I am discovering that full recovery is not only possible, but also possibly the most empowering experience you can imagine.”
Now in full time employment and back riding her beautiful horses, she is another of my #ConquerED inspirations, and I have faith that she will keep going from strength to strength in all areas of her life.
It has been a pleasure to watch this young lady, and dear friend of mine, turn a corner and fight onwards. Step by step rebuilding, redefining and rediscovering herself as she continues on her recovery journey.
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