This time 18 months ago, I was in the depth of my eating disorder. All I thought about was food, calories, and how I looked, so much that it was consuming my life. The other day, I was cleaning out my school bag and I found a list — now, this was a list of all the foods I was going to eat for the next week and their caloric values and what time I was going to eat them, and I thought to myself that it was so sad that this was how I spent my time and it made me “happy.” I could have been doing so many other things with my life but no, anorexia had different plans for me.
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in the November of 2016. So it has been a year and a half since that diagnosis and boy, has a lot changed. I had been dieting for many years before the diagnosis and have hated my body for as long as I can remember. But it was the death of my oma (grandma) that really pushed me over the edge and I started all the bad habits. At this time, I was also told I had depression and anxiety, so it was a lot to cope with in one go. The last 6 months of 2016 I can easily say were the worst of my life. I didn’t go to school and was considering dropping out, I would have a meltdown at least twice a day, I would never get out of bed, I wouldn’t talk to anyone and felt as if my life had no purpose.
My eating disorder was slowly taking control of my life. I only ate foods I viewed as healthy in the smallest bowls with the smallest cutlery I could find and at specific times. I would sleep to avoid meals, I would avoid social eating situations, I only ate 2 meals a day, I exercised every single night to the point where I would feel like fainting, I had to give up musical theater which I had been doing for 8 years, mum and I fought a lot to the point we would both go to our rooms crying, I lost friends because I was never at school and they could not deal with me in the current state that I was in, and that’s only the beginning of what my eating disorder was like. And this was not only brought on by me thinking that I was “fat,” but also by the fact that my life was spiraling out of control and the only thing I could control was my eating.
Over last summer, I finally got some help and saw a dietitian, since as my weight was decreasing, so was my quality of life. My nails were gone, my hair was falling out, I was always at the doctors getting blood tests and ECGs, etc., I was always cold and I was always tired. I was under house arrest for the entire summer; no seeing friends, no going to the beach or enjoying the summer weather, and I have no clue what I have done to body in terms of my future… but that’s not even the sad part — the sad part is that it didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was making sure I stayed a certain weight and did not go over my daily calorie intake, that my thighs stayed the same size and that I listened to every single thing anorexia told me. Even when I went back to school, for the first term I had to sit and eat lunch with my mum in the car — now, I love my mum, don’t get me wrong, but that sucked big time. I suffered a relapse in the middle of 2017, but I picked myself back up and continued on my journey to recovery. In the November of 2017, I finished my eating disorder service appointments that I had been attending for over a year and was ready to start my new and improved life. I cannot stress enough how much better life is without your eating disorder and yes, it is always going to be with you, but it’s just how prevalent it is that matters. It may seem right now that there is no way out and you are going to be this way forever, but trust me, I felt the same way. I thought that the rest of my life was going to be like that, but there is a way out. Trust me when I say life is AMAZING once you find that freedom.
Like I just mentioned, life is so much better without your eating disorder and I am living proof of that. I now love school and haven’t missed a single day this term, I’m not failing every class, I actually have a life. I can go out with my friends whenever I want and go to parties, I have a new “zest for life” as I like to call it, maybe a little too much as mum likes to say when I’m dancing on the kitchen bench. I have made friends who I know will be there for me even when I’m going through a rough time, and I cannot thank them enough for that. I am going on a school trip in the middle of the year to volunteer and if I had not recovered, I wouldn’t be able to do that. There are so many reasons for you to recover! To live life to its fullest, smile, laugh, travel, find joy in the smallest of things, make new memories that will last a lifetime, and most importantly, to find yourself along the way.
Written by Lili Haby