As I sit in a pret in New York looking at the people cycling along I still can’t help hating myself for the iced latte I’m sipping instead of exercising.
I regret not having water instead of lemonade earlier. This is how my life has been for a while because I’m still trying to get over anorexia nervosa. Sure, I eat- doesn’t mean I don’t want to run it all off like I used to though.
The funny thing is I didn’t even know I was anorexic, I thought it was normal to feel like this. I thought people did run every day, did restrict and count their calories. Turns out they didn’t categorise foods as good or bad and create rules around them like I did. I didn’t even realise just how sick I’d become.
Once I was given the ultimatum “two weeks to gain 2kg or you’ll be on a drip in hospital” I forced myself into what most people call ‘quasi recovery’.
I restricted just like before all day, pretended not to exercise (when really I was doing crunches and jumping jacks when nobody was looking). I would ‘save my calories’ up for a dessert every night. Once I’d jumped over the two week hurdle and was in pain every night because my stomach couldn’t cope with eating ‘so much’, the cold hard truth of what I was doing to my body hit me. I was killing myself with what I thought was healthy or ‘clean’ eating.
Now, as I’m sat a year later with my best friend, I realise how amazing life is when you have the energy to live as oppose to just existing. Recovery is and was the hardest thing I have ever done, but the most amazing and most important thing. I went through the phases that most people seem to in eating disorder recovery (according to any recovery blog on tumblr and Instagram that I see); the Ben and jerry’s pint party phase, peanut butter on everything, followed by a lapse and trying to be healthy again (despite doctors telling me that I could eat 10 brownies a day and it still be healthier than having 5 fruit and veg).
So what is recovery in my opinion? Recovery for me means living an actual life, walking without being in pain, eating without being in pain.
I am able to go on holidays, have a job, even just going out clubbing is something I couldn’t have done last year. Anorexia isn’t a diet or a lifestyle, it is a genuine disease and recovery isn’t just weight restoration, it’s so much more, it’s gaining life back, happiness back.
The scariest thing I’ve ever done is going to the doctors (pretty much against my will, my anorexia brain kicking and screaming) and hearing my future with and without anorexia. Some people tell me I’m incredibly lucky because the fact that I was underweight or what is classed as anorexic on the BMI scale (I won’t give the exact figure because it’s not helpful), as it meant that I was offered treatment.
The truth is that most people wouldn’t think of eating disorders as anything other than being incredibly skinny, but really you can have an eating disorder at any weight, and you can recover at whatever stage.
You will never be ‘ready’ to recover, but it is the only way to gain control back over your body, no matter what your eating disorder tells you. You just have to do it, and my god will it be worth it.
Eliza, Beat Young Ambassador