Whats it really like to live with anorexia?
I was only officially diagnosed with anorexia a few years ago, however I am very aware that I have lived with it since my early teens.
Anorexia is the most difficult to talk about out of all of the illness that I suffer with. It’s the least understood and the one that carries the most stigma. Anorexia is not simply teenage girls starving themselves to an emaciated state and it is not – as many people think – an extreme weight loss diet! Anorexia is a serious mental illness. It is a mental illness that has a huge mortality rate – the biggest amongst any mental illness.
I am nervous and anxious to share some of my experiences of anorexia with you, as I am going through a tough period with it right now, but I feel that I need to do this. For me and for anyone else suffering.
I know it’s not what you’d expect to hear from someone who’s diagnosised anorexic but I LOVE food! I fear it yes but I absolutely love it and I am obsessed with it. I love to talk about it, watch cookery programmes, buy recipe books and cook and bake for my family. I love to feed people and see people enjoying food. As long as it’s not me I love it. I know everything about food. Whats good for you and why. I can also tell you the calories of pretty much most foods off the top of my head. It is literally an obsession!
Anorexia also brings with it other obsessions, in my case diet pills and laxatives. I spent so much money on these over the years and would buy high end brands very regularly. Looking back I can’t quite believe the pharmacy continued to sell me these items over and over again for such a long period. I never got told about any side effects or asked any questions except,
“Have you taken these before?”
In my warped mind I saw this as confirmation that I was still fat. These professionals weren’t stopping me so clearly I needed to take them!
With anorexia its not just a case of eating something and you’ll be cured. It doesn’t work like that and in fact this can be a dangerous way to think or act. I have had so many people say to me over the years,
“Just eat something small.”
“But you love chocolate – just eat it.”
“You won’t get fat from one sandwich/cake etc.”
These comments are far from true or helpful. It’s such an incredibly complex illness.
I have had times where I eat. Of course I have. And breakfast was always an ok time for me to eat. I saw eating at this time in the day was OK as I had plenty of time to burn off the calories. I just made sure that I NEVER ate after 6pm.
But it tends to swing between my anorexic behaviours or binge eating. Binge eating is really binging! There have been days when I allowed myself to eat what I wanted and it was like I’d opened the floodgates! I began to get serious cravings. Uncomfortable and overwhelming cravings.
I have never ever let anyone know or see this behaviour as I feel so ashamed and disgusted about it. But at it’s worst I would be like a starved animal!
On one occasion, for example, I would be making my son crumpets for breakfast, then doing two for myself (these are normally a banned food for me) I would devour them in seconds. Id then eat the contents of the biscuit barrel within minutes. Chocolate, cheese, yogurts, whatever was in the fridge would be next on my binge mission. I’d then put the oven on and put in pizza, chips, sausages, whilst waiting for them to cook I’d devour packets of crisps. I would be so desperate for the food in the oven I wouldn’t even let them cook through properly. I’d be eating them half cooked and not even care! I didn’t even taste it. any of it. I could even be known to eat an entire jar or Nutella, peanut butter and sugar straight from the cupboard. I would squeeze ice cream sauce straight into mouth! I had just literally lost control and and was acting in desperation.
These episodes have happened numerous times over the years but I have always kept them hidden. I am ashamed, embarrassed, guilty and downright disgusted by them.
It is also a very frightening thing to go through. You lose control completely and the only way to gain that control back and repair the damage is to starve yourself again. Punishing myself for the awful behaviour. Being dragged back to the awful hell that is anorexia. It is black and white thinking at it’s absolute worst. It’s emotionally draining and a truly frightening experience.
I am not currently receiving help for my anorexia because I have finally reached a healthy BMI of 18.5. However I am well aware I am on a mission right now to lose weight. I hate the size I am and I hate the way I look. I have told professionals this 3 times since December but have yet to be offered any help. So in my warped anorexic brain this means one thing – I need to lose weight. I must be too big. Why else would professionals not be interested in my weight lose? It’s the awful nature of anorexia.
Anorexia is tough. Really tough.
Please look after yourselves and others.
Lots of love