I varied between binging and vomiting, and starving myself. Last year, I truly hit rock bottom; my life was a living hell. It revolved around making trips to the supermarket to buy bags full of food and then sitting in my room, eating for hours on end and throwing up in buckets. Sometimes I would spend entire days that way, and fall asleep sore, horribly dehydrated, my throat raw, my knuckles bleeding. Or, alternatively, writing myself 'reminders' not to eat, calling myself a stupid fat *****, clinging on to radiators in a desperate attempt to get warm, searching for new low calorie foods, sipping endless amounts of black coffee. There wasn't a moment where I didn't loath myself and my body. There was nothing glamorous, poetic or dramatic about it for me. Life with eating disorder was gritty, disgusting (try sleeping in a bedroom that reeks of vomit, then think about making yourself sick for the first time), mundane and lonely.
I eventually ended up in hospital, and was quickly sucked in to the morbid competition that often exists in those places, with everyone competing to be the best at being anorexic, the most sick, the most rebellious. Four months later, after many, many tears and pointless arguments about yoghurt brands, I emerged at a healthy weight, obsessive and full of uncertainty about what I wanted for myself.
It's been an odd year, for sure. I've had a few epiphanies. gave myself a bit of a wake up call, realised how much of life I was missing out on, how futile my desperate mission to be as ill as possible was. I won't say I'm completely normal- my eating habits are nothing short of bizarre (frozen peas, anyone?!), and I have slip ups, particularly with making myself sick. But I'm proud that I've stayed out of hospital, maintained a healthy weight, and am generally much more sorted out in my head about what I want- to live, to be healthy and happy and cheerful.
Basically, I grew up a lot, and told myself to stop being so ridiculous. That's not to imply that all eating disordered people are immature or that they are being ridiculous, not at all. This is just my personal reflection on my experience.
I have body hang ups, of course I do. Who doesn't? I am still unhappy with parts of my body- but I can appreciate the bits I do like. Without wanting to sound corny or clichéd, I realise that my body- with it's youth and health- is actually quite amazing, especially so for coping with all the crap I've put it through in the last couple of years. I've definitely learnt to appreciate myself, and to treat myself with the same courtesy and kindness I'd treat others with. Why shouldn’t I, after all? I always think that a little defiantly, as though I’m almost angry at how I’ve much abused my body and my self-esteem in the past.
I've come to the conclusion that, far from making me feel any better, an eating disorder and all its subsequent consequences are, in the very least, a supreme waste of my time. I never chose to become ill- but I did choose to recover, to move on and fill my life with something worthwhile. It is ALWAYS possible to take back control of your life.
I do things now I wouldn't have dreamt of a year ago. Little, inconsequential things that other people take for granted. I eat lollipops. I play the 'food round' of the school quiz. I practically live in Starbucks, chatting over coffee and muffins with my friends (and that's a recent development, too- friends. Wonderful, funny, amazing friends, for whom I am so, so grateful. An eating disorder takes everything, including willingness or ability to socialise.)
I am proud of myself for moving on, keeping myself healthy, getting back into life. And I'm still always faintly surprised at how good feels OK to say that I've recovered. *inspirational sermon over*