Between the age of 14 and 18 I was bulimic, sometimes dipping into anorexia. This isn’t something I’m ashamed of and I don’t have an issue discussing it, as I feel that I’ve come so far since that time in my life and if anything I think others struggling with the same issues need to know that it can and it will get better. The thing is, YOU have to want it to get better.
When I was ill I hid it from everyone for four years and then I think it just got too much for me. I started slipping up and people including my best friend and my Dad noticed. Because I wasn’t necessarily under weight (I’d always been slim and into sport), I was quick to brush it off as a phase and tell everyone I was ok and dealing with it. As I’m typing this, I realise I’ve gone off on a tangent, as I’m supposed to be talking about my relationship with food now, but hey, this is all part of the same thing!
Anyway, during those first four years I got very depressed, being bullied at school, being raped at the age of 17 and having no one to turn to.
So it’s all these little things added together that made me feel increasingly crappy about myself. I had no self worth, I shopped for new clothes like I had millions to spend, all in the hope that one day soon I’d find the perfect outfit that made me feel good again. As you can imagine, that didn’t happen.
So after a loooooonnnng time of feeling awful, treating my body in an awful way, and a pretty big breakdown one night at home, it all finally came out to my family. That cry for help was the best thing I ever did. The recovery didn’t come quickly, there were many long hospital stays and therapists, which I couldn’t help but feel was always a bit over the top – I suppose in my head, I was never as ill as I thought. Just because I wasn’t extremely underweight, didn’t mean I was any less in need of help… my mind was a pickle, a pickle in need of unpicking.
I’d go into the supermarket or a cafe and literally stand there in a daze for about 15 minutes, sweating, thinking about what I should eat and then walk out with nothing. Other times my mind wouldn’t even think, I just pick up a sandwich and some chips wolf it down and then have a cry on the way home when all I wanted was for the food to be out of my body.
Throughout all of this it was my Dad’s words that really stuck with me and helped me to recovery I think. My parents are the most amazing humans on this planet, so when my Dad said “I think you just need to get over it”, that wasn’t him being mean, that was just his black & white way of seeing it and in many ways he was right. No amount of therapist chats were going to help me, if I didn’t want to help me. I genuinely woke up one day and realised that I was so bored of being sad, bored of feeling sorry for myself, bored of always being tired and feeling rubbish, so I made a promise to myself to make some changes.
It wasn’t a quick and easy process by any means – there have been many small relapses over the years, but now so few. There have even been times at the age of 22 when I have called Shawn and said I feel so full after dinner and the thought of purging had come to mind. Because I know I don’t want to do it I just call him, am very honest with my feelings and then we just chat about the weather or something until I’m feeling calmer. The weather is a great thing… as is having an amazing supportive partner.
I hope in some very small way, anyone reading this who has struggled or is struggling with similar issues knows that you’re not alone and things WILL get better. Sometimes all we need is a good friend, boyfriend or family member who will support us, and a new focus.