‘You’re fat, I’m winning’ my anorexic mind would tell me as I stumbled across blogs like this, or looked at the healthy photos of those recovered. The devastating nature of anorexia destroys not only your own body image, but changes how you perceive those around you. My goal with this blog has always been to reach out to those still fighting, and if you are, you’ve completely won – I’m the fat one.
Yet as I stand two and half stone heavier and three dress sizes larger than I once was, I don’t mind feeling ‘bigger’ at all. I know the satisfaction of seeing the number on the scales drop and I remember all too well the desire to stay small, but my life without anorexia has been more amazing than I could have imagined.
Recovery isn’t as simple as it sounds – you can’t wake up one morning and think ‘yep, I’m going to eat more today’. You’ve got to fight something invisible, in your own mind, alone. So this is where I’ll try to step in, to silence the worries and offer you some first hand advice.
I’ll put on loads of weight really quickly
You won’t. Right now your body is in starvation mode and it takes a long time to turn that around. Your weight will plato, then very very slowly, you’ll start to gain a few pounds. No matter what you do, or what you eat, you won’t balloon overnight and it will be a while before you see any difference.
I won’t be able to deal with the criticism in my head
There’s so many different answers to this one. Some people find it helpful to name your anorexia, helping you separate your own thoughts to those of your demon. For me, I found voicing the irrational thoughts helpful. I can’t even imagine how many times I asked my Mum if I’d get fat, if I’d eaten loads that day or if I looked any different. She was my rock and the rational voice that could silence my worst fears.
I can’t eat more without feeling sick
As you know, mealtimes are the biggest stress of the day. The moment you dread most as the panic begins to set in. For me, in the midst of all this turmoil, making the simple decision of what to eat would be impossible. My solution was to plan my meals for the next day, to do the calorie math the evening before (to make sure I was eating more, not less) then stick this on the fridge, eliminating any decision making.
Before mealtimes, go for a walk, do yoga or close your eyes and calm down. Remove the stress from the situation any way you can.
People will notice
They probably will. Everyone will say you look ‘healthy’ – translated in your mind as ‘fat’. I still hate that word, I still ask my boyfriend if I look huge and still see photos of myself that make me want to cry. Yet this isn’t want people mean – you look beautiful, it’s a compliment I promise. Try and silence the negative thoughts, realise nearly every girl on the planet has them and de-tag that photo.
I won’t be able to do it
You’ll have good days, you’ll feel invincible, you’ll celebrate putting weight on for the first time in a long time and you’ll get excited buying a new wardrobe. You’ll also have bad days when the voice in your head screams, calls you fat and tells you you’re losing. Keep a diary, phone someone who can snap you out of it and remind yourself how far you’ve come.
This all can, at times, seem impossible – something that might work for me won’t for you. Yet with thousands of pro-anna blogs floating round the Internet, sharing ‘thinspiration’ photos and weight loss advice, isn’t it time we swapped recovery tips instead?