Mental Health

Living with anorexia – what I’m really thinking

Living with anorexia is hell! It’s hell because of the obvious, starving yourself, calorie counting, obsessiveness, over exercising, laxatives, diet pills but also because there is still so much stigma and misunderstanding around it. Yes that’s right there is still stigma there! Despite many people telling me there is no stigma – there is.

Going from a size 8 to a size 12/14 when I was pregnant, was so hard the second time around because I was so aware that I wasn’t just going to pop back down to size. I was so anxious as my bump (and everything else) grew. Learning to accept my body changing was so hard, clothes not fitting me was hell! I would get incredibly anxious at just opening the wardrobe.

Anorexia is also incredibly lonely. I will pretend that all is well and that I am ok but actually inside a storm is tearing through me. My plans and rules for the week are whizzing around my head, leaving me preoccupied and forgetful. I’m planning how I will avoid foods. How will I fit in more exercise. How many diet pills and laxatives I can take. Doing this kind of planning makes me feel in control and makes me feel safe.

Living with anorexia - what I'm really thinking

Anorexia is a liar. A manipulator. She (Ana as I have always called her) twists my perception of reality. I look at my reflection in the mirror and no matter how much weight I lose I still see something huge, fat, wobbly and disgusting! My reflection is a lie because Ana made it so.

Online is a very dangerous place for me when I am struggling but even when I am OK it has the potential to easily drag me down.

The skinny photos you see of women and girls that are shared online, shared to cause shock and to disgust us actually do the opposite to me. I see these images as something to work towards. It’s then a competition. But also it can make me terribly depressed. “Why can’t I be that skinny?” “I’m not good at anything!”

I actually have screenshot and saved these images (a lot) and used them as inspiration. As targets that I had to hit. At my times of weakness this was extremely dangerous, but I never stopped.  Even in times of ‘recovery’ these kind of images act as a trigger for me. A trigger to starting the dieting and over exercising process.

That’s why I really don’t agree with these images being shared. I don’t think they raise awareness of eating disorders at all. I think the opposite. Not only for the reasons I’ve said already but also because it feeds into the stigma that still surrounds anorexia.

To those who aren’t suffering and see these images it just seems to reinforce that you are only an anorexia or eating disorder sufferer if you are a girl and incredibly thin. Which simply isn’t true. You can be any size, shape or gender to suffer an eating disorder. It’s a mental illness. Anorexia actually has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness so it’s an incredibly serious one.

Fad diets and cutting out food groups are another thing that can trigger me. You see them in celeb and gossip magazines – which I really try to not buy – The best weight loss diet in Hollywood right now… The Atkins diet.. The Victoria Secret Diet. It’s awful. To me it gives me an excuse or a reason why it’s ok to restrict.

“Everyone else is doing it, so it’s OK!”

When in reality of course, it is not!

People who suffer with anorexia are incredibly vulnerable. It doesn’t take much at all to trigger my anorexic thoughts and behaviours. As I’ve said before this is because it’s a mental illness. It stems from very low self esteem and a negative self image. I genuinely see fat, and big disgusting wobbly bits when I look in the mirror. I really do think that I need to lose weight to be happier. It doesn’t matter whether my husband or my best friend or a Doctor tells me otherwise. If Ana is inside my head she is the one I will always believe.

Anorexia is a dangerous place to be.

I believe it is possible to recover from anorexia. I am just not there yet.

Stay strong and keep fighting.

Love, Amy xx


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1 Comment

  • Reply Sam

    Wow. A very powerful piece. I really FELT it.
    I welled up, but I also felt it deep in my body. You really conveyed your own experience, which connected with my own and i felt it viscerally.
    You gave words to silent things I’ve lived with for a long time. Thank you.
    In addition, the latter part re. imagery was really thought provoking.
    Thank you for your courageous and insightful words.
    Amazing sharing.

    December 4, 2018 at 10:23 pm
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