Anorexia – the loneliest place in the world

In the past two months, my life has changed in ways I’d never have imagined. From sitting behind a desk in Putney, to living out a backpack and travelling the world. Yet despite this new stage in my life, I haven’t forgotten what I set out to do with this blog. To talk about anorexia and recovery, to help anyone watching a loved one struggle and hopefully, in some small way, guide those still in the grasp of an all consuming daemon I know too well.  

In past blogs, I’ve touched upon the world of loneliness anorexia creates. From the outside looking in, this is impossible to understand as you hold your hands out and offer support. From the inside, it’s impossible to imagine a world where you can take the hand, and leave your daemon behind. As always, I can only speak from my own memories and experiences, but I hope they help.

Socialising isn’t fun

Thinking back to my 18th birthday, one pound away from being admitted to an adult inpatients centre, I was, like any eighteen year old, getting ready to go to a bar I was too ill to get into. Ten minutes after using my ID for the first time I was calling my parents crying, having left my friends with no explanation. 

When your body is in starvation mode, everything is a struggle and the smallest thing can make you panic. If you are recovering, remember it’s ok to be too tired, to miss your university freshers week because you’re not up to it, to focus on yourself and work out what it takes to help you recharge. 

You push everyone away

You can’t sleep; your hip bones stick out and you need to wee constantly throughout the night (your body can’t hold on to any water anymore). Your mind is more determined than you ever imagined it could be and your daemon has turned you against the ones that love you most.
Yet all it takes is a cry for help to someone willing to listen.

Those still in the grasp of anorexia, I urge you to keep letting down the wall you’ve spent years, months, weeks building. Saying, writing or texting exactly what’s on your mind to someone, anyone, who understands (even if that’s an anonomymous blogger like myself), will be your first step in the best direction.

For me, this person was a Beat recognised counsellor my desperate parents found, when searching the Internet for a solution. A place where no worry or thought was too silly, I slowly began to see through the anorexic fog in my mind and work out how to live without it.

And those you’ve hurt more than you can imagine? They’ll forgive you, love you and fight with you. 

You’re constantly stared at

We live in a society where the stranger, or sicker a person looks, the more we stare. Whether that’s in the kids changing room, as you try to find something that doesn’t hang off you, or in Waitrose, as you study food packets working out what’s ‘safe’ to eat that night. 

For those living with anorexia, you don’t notice or don’t care, yet for those watching, this must be devastating. I am forever grateful for the team I had around me – my parents, brothers, counsellor and dietician, who didn’t wrap me up in cotton wool (despite how easy and tempting this must have been), but made me stand on my own two feet. Supporting my wishes to educate myself on how to eat, rather than drinking high calorie shakes and encouraging me to take a massive leap of faith and move 114 miles up the M1 to Loughborough university. The best decision I ever made, but one I couldn’t have made alone. 

Sure, I was painfully thin and the stares didn’t stop, but I was surrounded by new friends, new opportunities and by the end of my first semester, I realised I didn’t need anorexia anymore. Being thrown in at the deep end wouldn’t work for everyone, but I believe it’s so important to have that team behind you, helping you work out the risks you should take. 

The final point I make is to truly believe you are never alone. Anorexia will live in your mind as long as you let it, so share the secret, talk about it and work out how to live without it. It might take years, but you’ll look back (hopefully on a bus in Thailand) and be so glad you did. 

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