Due to my build, I didn’t look the way most people thought anorexics looked. In fact, people that didn’t know I was suffering with anorexia often told me how well I was looking. Even my doctor told me that my BMI didn’t qualify me to be referred to an eating disorder support group. He had to personally write me a letter to ensure I was able to attend, which would later be vital to my recovery.
At this point I’d been suffering from anorexia, depression, and anxiety for a while. I actually enjoyed the feeling anorexia gave me, at first. My guess is that it feels similar to the rush from any addiction which provides a temporary “fix”. It was my belief that I was the best at being anorexic. I felt I knew exactly what I was doing and how to control it.
As time went on, my indulging needed to become more extreme to reach anything close to a fix or a ‘high’. In result, my health deteriorated rapidly. I was eating drastically below my necessary calorie intake. When I did eat, I often went at least 24 hours without any sustenance. Ultimately, I came to an inevitable crash with a near-unchangeable ending
I would learn in time, however, that it’s amazing how in control you can feel while in fact being totally the opposite.
I had been torturing myself with the belief that this was my only way to happiness and being in control of my life. At the time this was a powerful conviction that I obeyed without question. But looking back, it’s unbelievable to me.
The illness was doing all it could to push everyone around me away so it could keep me all to itself. I was doing and saying unforgivable things to people that I loved. Unfortunately to this day, I have memory loss from most of this time.
At that moment I couldn’t have told you why it was happening. Which was very convenient as it made it much easier for me to ignore and become numb to.
My anorexia and depression had gotten completely out of my control. I was desperate for sleep to stop the demons for just a few hours. I would try anything that would help me to sleep. I became so desperate for this that I was willing to gamble on short term relief that could’ve become a permanent consequence.
It had been so long since I’d slept for the entire night. When I woke up one night in my room to a paramedic loudly repeating my name and another speaking with my mum and grandad it didn’t sink in what was going on. I was just glad to have slept through undisturbed until that moment, not realizing the events that had transpired.
In the months leading up to the visit from the paramedics, my anxiety and depression had become severe. I felt anorexia was my closest friend but it had transformed into a monster preventing me from sleeping. My illness had me under a possessed-like trance from sleep deprivation. My mind was wandering to scary places and it felt like nothing worked.
It was only through counseling and reflecting on this time have I been able to see why my life went in that direction.
The human mind tends to create linear stories. Often omitting or simply forgetting many of the small details that happened between one stage of life and another. For a long while my story was black and white. My narrative was; ‘I was sick and now I’m not’. This served me for a bit, but ultimately didn’t keep me on the right path moving forward.
Three years into my recovery I slid back into a depression. The anorexia was kept at bay, but the depression was as heavy and suffocating as it had been before. To me, there didn’t seem to be an obvious reason as to why I had relapsed. I’d spent a year traveling Central America, my health was good, I was in a happy relationship and I worked at a job I enjoyed.
I hadn’t given much thought to what happened to me for a long time, which I now realize, was my mistake.
Six years later I barely recognise myself from the person I was back then.
Mental health conditions, traumas, and addictions all live on inside of us forever. No matter how ‘recovered’ we tell ourselves we are, they stay with us like small fires that forever burn faintly inside us. If we ignore them or distract ourselves from them it’s like throwing logs on. Resulting in the roaring disaster of flames they once were.
By ignoring what is or what was, we don’t allow ourselves the chance to process, or accept these moments of our life.
The way I maintain the fire I carry within me is accepting that it is there.
What happened is a part of me, it’s a huge part of my history. But it doesn’t have to define who I am. I can’t ignore what happened. If I did I’d only be lying to myself, and thus not accepting what was. In doing this, I’ve been able to process what happened, right many wrongs, and put safety nets in place for future pitfalls.
Most importantly, I’ve been able to forgive myself. Realizing that what happened to me was not my fault has helped me to dissolve much of the negative and painful scarring I was carrying.
It doesn’t have to be my destiny.
Today, I do my best to consciously fill my life with positivity. I do this through the company I keep, what I read or watch, and what I follow on social media. Who we are is what we surround ourselves with.
Over time, I have learned what works best for me and what I need in my daily routines to support myself. Three key elements for me are meditation, meal planning, and yoga. Meditation has helped me to develop the ability to be more aware of my thoughts. Importantly, I am able to transcend beyond thought to rest deeply and heal.
Through DDP Yoga I have strengthened my body, my mind, and my discipline. Yoga gives me new goals to work towards each day and a chance to always become a better version of myself. Finally, planning my meals in advance removes most my anxiety around the topic of food and worry of whether I am consuming enough.
These main practices, along with other positive habits and routines, give me the belief and the confidence to look at what happened in my past as simply an experience. Not good or bad, just an experience, with no label attached. I feel that whatever may or may not come my way in life will always bring with it a lesson. Now, I am confident that I will be strong enough and more than capable of taking from it what I need and dissolving what I don’t.
It’s about what works for us as individuals.
My way may not work for you, and that’s okay. Through trial and error you will find your own way. Worst-case scenario, you will end up trying new things and connecting with people in the process of creating your own personal practices.
In summary, I have shared my story to encourage you to share yours. Sharing my story has been a part of my healing process. My goal is to let you know, that you’re not alone. We all experience the lows life throws at us. They may be different but they are low times none the less. It is my belief that without doubt you too can overcome.