I thought I would do a post answering some questions about anorexia and my experience with it because I wanted to make an informative and honest piece that hopefully can give some insight into the reality of living with an ED. I want to put a possible trigger warning at the start of this, so if you feel you might be affected in any way negatively by it, please just don’t read it! I want this to be helpful and positive 💖
These were all questions I received via my instagram stories. If you have any more please feel free to DM me, drop them below or I may make a tellonym account in the future so if you’d prefer to be anonymous you can drop them there too. Lots of love as always and I hope you find this post useful.
how did it start?
If I had a pound for the amount of times I’ve been asked this! It usually is the first thing people want to know, but personally I didn’t have 1 trigger or any certain event that really ‘started’ my anorexia. It sort of just came about. At the time I was living in Sydney and my depression was really bad; I couldn’t get out of bed and just didn’t want to eat anything. I started to worry about how much I was eating because I was doing less and was counting calories but I wasn’t underweight at this point. So yeah, I’d say my low mood probably contributed the most to the onset of my eating disorder.
How long has it been there?
Luckily, I was only diagnosed in September 2018 which in terms of a lifetime isn’t that long but to be honest sometimes I struggle to remember what it’s like to live without anorexia. I think I’ve always been conscious of my food but it was never disordered. Growing up I LOVED TO EAT and still do, but since around the beginning of 2018 I think I started to struggle.
Do you think you will ever fully recover?
any advice for letting go of your eating disorder?
I’d say it’s just not worth it. It has taken me, and on more than 1 occasion, to be rushed to A&E nearly dead to realise that life with an eating disorder is not a life at all. It will rip your family apart, try to kill you and IS NOT GLAMOROUS IN ANY WAY! When I think about all the things I have missed out on because of my eating disorder it makes me really upset. I’ve never been clubbing, never bought alcohol, haven’t had birthday cake in years, haven’t eaten an easter egg since I don’t even remember, haven’t gone on holiday, had lunch with friends, eaten out with family and so much more! I was unable to really make any friends at college because I isolated myself so much.
do you think society pays enough attention to eating disorders?
No not at all. When I was diagnosed, I was shocked. I didn’t think I could have anorexia because I wasn’t emaciated and dying yet. People don’t realise that when you have anorexia you NEVER THINK YOU ARE ILL ENOUGH! And I know that might sound weird to most people but your eating disorder will tell you that you just need to be a bit ill-er or a bit more underweight or have a few more symptoms to deserve help. I wish wish wish people understood this because it is so dangerous. Eating disorders are mental disorders and can come about at any weight or at any point in anyone’s life; they don’t discriminate. If it were up to me every school would have education on eating disorders.
were you nervous to tell people about your diagnosis – was there anything in particular stopping you?
I’m not nervous now but initially yes I was terrified! I was embarrassed because I didn’t see myself as having a problem and I thought I wasn’t thin enough to have anorexia. I thought people would treat me differently and it would become an awkward elephant in the room. But, at the same time I knew that they would find out eventually as it began to take over my life more and more.
I think for ages I believed people didn’t know about my diagnosis. I never really came out and told people ‘I have anorexia’, so I think my friends just assumed after a while when they started to notice my symptoms.
did it start slowly? like small diets? or was it extreme?
Initially it was relatively slow but my relapses have been extreme. Most of the times I have ended up in hospital have been due to downward spirals. But again, it’s been there for a while and I’d say I never actually ‘dieted’ per se and my aim was never to lose weight. At first I just didn’t want to eat but then it turned into a sort of obsession and as it progressed I felt I needed to be thinner to deserve recovery and be able to eat normally again.
advice for someone who is struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with food?
I’d say speak to someone about it. You probably have an eating disorder if I’m brutally honest even though you may not think it. Educate yourself about eating disorders and seek help. Eating disorder services in the NHS are extremely stretched and when I was inpatient I never actually any therapy at all but if you can reach out to anyone, whether its your mum or a friend, I promise it will help. 🖤
do you still get triggered? What are some of your triggers?
YES! I do, but definitely not as much as I used to. Things within diet culture like exercising to burn calories and ways to lose weight. I also used to get really triggered when people told me I looked okay or good or more healthy, because my anorexia saw that as being ‘greedy’ and ‘underserving’. This is still something I find really hard and am very aware that my appearance has changed a lot and numerous times over the past few years but I’m just beginning to accept that the weight gain is inevitable and not gaining weight is incompatible with living a normal, happy life again.
did people treat you differently after finding out your diagnosis?
Yes and most people still do! Mostly people are just worried about saying something that will trigger or upset me. Now I’m perfectly happy talking about nearly anything in terms of my diagnoses but I think people are too scared to ask me stuff. I just wish people realised how much I don’t mind! Way back when, I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it though. I also definitely lost a lot of friends because of my anorexia, some people just found it too awkward to deal with so found it easier not to speak to me, and others seemed to only be able to meet up for meals out!
what’s the hardest part of recovery?
Hmm… recovery is so hard. Like so hard. But I’d say the absolute hardest part is seeing the pain it has caused my family and all the stuff I’ve caused us to miss out on. It’s really sad.
Do you have rules (self-inflicted) do you have to break to overcome your eating disorder?
OMG so many. Like way too many to write on here.
is it hard to be around others talking about food?
No not at all. Even in the deepest darkest moments of my anorexia I loved food and I think it’s a common misconception that people with eating disorders never get hungry or don’t like food. I wanted to eat everything and anything. I literally dreamt about eating potatoes at one point and woke up over the moon because it felt so real. Yes, our bodies are geniuses.
what had happened that made you realise you had a problem?
I think I only realised that my anorexia was an issue when I was in A&E for the second time. The doctor told me I could have been moments away from dying and my heart could have stopped at any point. I saw my parents and sister break down in tears and it was heartbreaking.
what was your lowest weight?
what can friends do to support you?
Just be there to listen and try to act normal! Checking in also really helps and not expecting quick replies. It’s worth saying at this point that my friends have been incredible during this whole thing and they are always so unbelievably understanding when I don’t feel like talking or just want to hang out and do nothing. Sometimes just being around people helps but also giving space.
how long did you suffer with anorexia before seeking help?
I don’t think I actually sought help myself. My mum initially took me to the doctor but I only sought help myself at the end of last year.
did you ever try to recover without outside help?
Not until now! But I do have a team at Cotswold House (an NHS eating disorder service) that phone in and check up on me a few times a week, monitor my weight and bloods etc.
How many times have you been to hospital for your anorexia?
Over Christmas in 2018 I was an inpatient at Highfield, in 2019 I was an inpatient twice, once over the summer and then once over Christmas at Cotswold House, I’ve been admitted to A&E three times because of my anorexia and have spent around 8 weeks in gastro wards. I’m also probably going back to Cotswold House for a bit but who knows with this corona stuff!
is it worth encouraging someone with anorexia to try some different foods when out?
I’d say it really really depends on the person and in which stage of recovery they are in. Personally, I don’t think I would have liked someone asking me to try foods when I was struggling a lot because I just wouldn’t have been able to do it. Try and read the situation and don’t push them 🖤
what is the thing you’re most proud to get through?
My 2018 admission to Cotswold House as it was involuntary and I was sectioned. Sectioning is something most people are too scared to talk about and before I was actually sectioned myself, I didn’t know what it even was! Please let me know below or on insta / tellonym if you’d like me to write a longer post on what it involved for me and how I coped.