23/02 – 01/03 2015 is eating disorders awareness week.
I thought I would take this oppertunity to write a bit on the topic, as there is nothing yet on this blog about it. This is an extremely brief description of my journey through eating disorders. You will be able to read more in my ebook Raw: diary of an anorexic, to be released this April.
At about this time 5 years ago I decided to become vegan for lent. I lost weight, and I liked it. I had always wanted to lose weight, as I thought I was really fat. I was not really fat at all. I was athletic, normal and pretty average in size and weight. But I FELT really fat, and saw myself that way.
The label of veganism provided me with an unknown power of determination, strength, deprivation by choice, and most importantly, individuality.
As time passed my weight dropped and my diet became more and more estranged. I cut out basically everything except Starbucks drinks, raw vegetables and diet coke.
The following Easter I went on holiday with my family to Cuba where I began eating even less, as I had to look good in a bikini beside my petite mother, and tall, slim sister. Diet cokes fuelled me through this period of time, as well as secret exersize whenever I was alone.
Next I went to Zante on a girls holiday with some best friends. I was noticably a lot thinner, and looked extremely different than before. I remember lying on the sun bed with aching bones, feeling the hard plastic crunching on my spine when I moved. I survived this holiday on salad, the occasional orange, cigarettes and ice tea.
The rest if my summer continued this way, and I tried for the first time to throw up my food after a meal. It was a warm summers day in the early afternoon where I panicked after eating a large bowl of soup AND a salad. My driving test was in half an hour, but none the less I bent over the toilet and emptied the contents on my stomach out. The orange mess splattered up the walls and onto the floor. My eyes were blood shot and I was shaking with adrenalin. (I passed my driving test by one point but felt awful).
When I went back to university I was very thin, and my periods had stopped for some time. My face was concave and my bones protruding. My family had been urging me to eat more, to stop being vegan and to gain weight. I ignored them.
This is when my anorexia really fucked with my head, my health and my life. I survived from September to the end if November on next to nothing. It started as only home made soups with no oil. Then that was too dangerous so I moved to just salad. Then that became too dangerous, so I moved to only canned vegetables.
By November I was being kept alive by three teaspoons of tinned asparagus a day (and nothing on weekends). I spent the rest of my time darting in and out of a flat mates room to check my weight on the scales. Seeing that number decrease filled me with adrenalin, excitement and joy. I was addicted to seeing it drop. If it had not gone down, I would go and be sick or do some star jumps before re consulting the mystical glass square half an hour later.
I was dying.
My doctor called my parents and I was transferred to an eating disorders unit as an outpatient.
At this point I was completely deluded. I knew I was dying, but I didn’t seem to care anymore. I remember one day vividly where I was smoking a cigarette on the kitchen floor at the back door. I broke down, and cried hysterically for the first time in a long time. I was shaking, barely breathing through the tears, a complete mess, and just didn’t want to live anymore. I was completely lost behind the shadow of the illness. Even my eyes were dead. I had nothing to say to anyone.
I ignored the eating plan I was prescribed by throwing away all the food and hiding it in different bins. Pouring my ensure drinks down the sink and convincing everyone else I was trying so hard and eating it all, gave me such an evil satisfaction. Defeating the system and deceiving all opposing parties was like a little fucked up game for me. But I did it well.
I got flown home and deferred my final year of university in order to recover. (I never finished my degree).
At the age of 19 I had a bmi of around 12.
At home things continued, and worsened. I was a walking skeleton, and I was barely walking. My driving lisence was confiscated, I was not allowed to use public transport or go very far as that would burn too many calories, and I was basically housebound. I chewed around 120 pieces of gum a day, had 2 diet cokes, a soup and a salad. I was about to be sectioned because I was about to die. I was in such direct risk of death… when I discovered bulimia.
From then on my weight hovered and then slowly increased throughout that year of time spent alone in the house frantically binging, purging, drinking and crying.
I attempted suicide more times than I would care to mention, developed alcoholism, and lived a life of isolation and misery on the living room sofa watching loose women.
I gained weight through bulimia, and moved out of my parents house to Brighton, still very bulimic. I have binged sometimes to the point where Ive not had a clue what I even ate because I ate so much. I have eaten from a bin, and I have binged under a car. I have puked in a hole I dug in the garden, and I have flipped my car in a desperate bid to get home to purge under the influence. I say I, but I didn’t do these things, I couldn’t physically control these things, it was the illness.
The point of this is to share my story, because I have no shame. Eating disorders need to be un-glamourised, and portrayed truthfully and brutally, because that is what they are. They are illnesses that have a negative stigma attached to them that should be diminished. Eating disorders deserve to be recognised as a serious illness, because that is what they are. Sufferers of these cruel illnesses deserve the same understanding that they may get should their illness be something else.
I dedicate this to all those amazing people who have recovered from their eating disorders, to all those amazing people in recovery, and to all those amazing people who may be struggling. Also to the family and friends who support their loved ones as they battle. It is so hard for the people around the sufferers too, but their love and support means everything.
Recovery is the most difficult yet amazing thing I have ever done or achieved. But It is possible. If I could get out of there (which to this day I am amazed by), then others can too. Have hope.