gaining: life after anorexia.

 

 

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If you had told me even a few months ago that there was to be life after anorexia, I wouldn’t have believed you because anorexia was life. Somehow, anorexia had become the captor I’d go to great lengths to protect.

It’s taken me a long time to feel ready to share this with you- I have opened up about struggles with my mental health, my suicide attempts, but this felt on a whole new level. It’s been an incredibly emotional journey for me to even begin writing this because I’m so used to viewing anorexia as a part of me. You could say having an eating disorder was like being in a room with walls that only others could see through.

I spent four years in this boxy room and during this time I grew comfortable with it. It promised me safety and shelter and happiness and I never questioned it, even when the exact opposite happened. I learnt to love the visitors too- a girl named ana and occasionally, a mia too. They told me there was a way out and I didn’t have to feel. That it would be painless and I’d be like a phoenix, rising from the ashes. I just had to shed my skin. Then I would ascend, my crumpled skin left behind; a bony beauty.

I wonder every day why I didn’t retreat when I was still a safe distance away. I guess that’s because there’s no safe distance when the thing in question is a magnet and you’re the metal, hopelessly, desperately attracted. I know enough now to realise that nothing is as black and white as it seems, and I couldn’t have walked away, no matter how far I stood. I like to believe that my eating disorder was caused by a comment from a doctor I once got when I was ten- she told me I was fat, and she was right, but it stung. I felt bad when I was getting weighed.. it was a foreign feeling. I was always aware that I was bigger than the other girls, but it never struck me as abnormal. Something in me wasn’t right from the start because I absorbed her words and they became truth.

I learnt a lot during my time in a pro ana community- I only left very recently.

What is behind me though, is still reality for so many others. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. It may seem like a physical thing or beauty sickness gone wrong, but anorexia is so much more. It gets into your blood and slowly poisons you. It wants you to become it. People who have never experienced this for themselves will never know. It is the cruelest of all cold blooded killers. The funniest thing about anorexia is how deluded it makes you- you start comparing yourself to somebody three times heavier than you and then feel bad for not being the skinniest. It happens. Everybody can see you for what you really are- it’s only you who is so blind to the truth. I remember the 25 kg girls and boys with the sunken eyes and and giving up bodies. The ones who had no life force left in them, just this virus. I’d leave comments telling them they were wrong, they were so tiny and needed help, because they didn’t even look human, let alone like people with stories and hopes and dreams. Even as an anorexic myself, I couldn’t understand how these clearly emaciated people saw fat. This is why it kills you, and also the others around you. They can see, you can’t. They don’t want your eating disorder to consume you, but you don’t even realise you have one, or if you do, and I promise this is worse- you want it.

After my first big anorexic episode during the end of 2016, when I was visiting family in England, I lost a few kilos and it was all downhill from there. I had seen some semblance of control in not eating much and purging what I could. It gave me a rush that I felt I could live off.

Once that first seed is planted, all it takes is small triggers and you fall down again. You promise yourself that you’ve got it sorted this time, and it won’t turn into that. You know better now, or at least you should. Ironically, the more times you relapse, in my experience, the deeper you fall and the less it takes to get you in a sick state. You can be fine one day and the next you’ll wake up and know it’s happening again, but your hole is deeper than ever and there is no light to be seen. The darkness has swallowed it.

The reality is that you will choose to recover, or you may not. You may want to die, if that’s the price of skinny. There is life after anorexia if you believe in it, and it is greener. I may not look the same as I did before, but I no longer feel the need to google the calories in air, or saliva.

Change began for me when I realised I’d suffered enough and warred with myself to the point that I had nothing left to give.. or lose. It was time I won.

 

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37 thoughts on “gaining: life after anorexia.

  1. aw, maryam. it’s so sad to see anyone go through this, but i’m so glad you have come out of it, even if i did take a while. stay strong, soph x

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    1. thanks soph, you don’t know how much that means to me! anorexia is defined as a chronic illness because once the thought is there, it never fully goes away, you just have to manage it. So some days I don’t feel great in my body but I have to remind myself that this particular story is one I know the ending to.

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  2. I can’t really say much, as I am no expert. I have had an unhealthy lot of friends who have gone through an eating disorder, but they managed to get out of it before even being told. You are very brave to open up about this, it seems that you have came a very long way. Stay strong x It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as there is a way out
    Erin x

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing, I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to be so vulnerable and share this. Even though I have never met you, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with pride and gratitude. Struggling with body image and even mental health, in general, is still such a taboo subject. I am forever grateful to you for this.

    Laura, xxoo

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    1. Laura, thank you so much for your kind words.. your understanding and care means the world to me. It’s been a very hard run, but I wanted to put this out there. People need to know the truth.. I needed to speak it, so it no longer held even a small amount of power over me.

      sending so much love <33

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  4. This is so raw and honest, and I have total admiration. Having suffered with anorexia over the years myself, I have considered myself in “remission” the last few years. Even now, when things are tough in my life I find some strange comfort in controlling my food intake, and have to actively fight myself to not let it consume me again. I can completely relate to your words about at times actually “wanting” the eating disorder in some way. It is such a difficult condition to understand until one has suffered with it themselves, and even then I am not sure any of us truly understand it ourselves! You should take great pride in yourself for not only overcoming the condition, but also using your experience to support and empower others ❤

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    1. Thank you ever so much.. I’m happy you could take something away from this post. I’m hoping you found some comfort in it too. Nowadays my eating is also fairly odd.. some people think I’m struggling again, but my hunger cues are pretty much gone. I eat for the taste, out of boredom. I just never feel hungry anymore. The other day I went 17 hours between one meal to the next, which is pretty common for me. I think anorexia takes a lot and definitely leaves a lasting impression. I know that one day though, you and I will be okay again! even more okay than now. I really appreiate your kind words. Wishing you the absolute best! ❤️

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  5. It is so hard to put such a complicated and messy disorder into words that give ‘healthy minds’ a glimpse of what it is like to suffer from an eating disorder. Reading this gave words to feelings I cannot express, it gave me comfort knowing there are people who know exactly what it’s like. I can’t see a light at the end of my tunnel but maybe, one day, I will.

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    1. Oh, I see you darling.. I know it feels like you’re stuck in a hopeless, loveless place where an eating disorder is all you see when you picture your life.. I know. I was there and some days I still am. There is no real getting rid of the thoughts, because once triggered, they can only be managed. I am so proud of you for being strong and remaining your beautiful self through this really hard time, because I know it takes a lot out of you and often times, you feel like a shell of your previous self! I just felt so strongly I needed to get this story out there because someone would need it. Eating disorders are noisiest in our heads. It’s so difficult to get yourself help when there are all these barriers.. just one of them being that fact that often you don’t even know what to say!

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      1. “There is no real getting rid of the thoughts, because once triggered, they can only be managed.” I love your blog post but I have to disagree with this. Full recovery is so possible as I have experienced it.

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      2. Months on, to an extent I can agree with you too. I have experienced recovery from anorexia, but I’m probably not as healed as you. That’s okay though.. I’m very glad your experience is different. While I don’t look at stick thin people anymore and wish to be them, while I can look at others and go, “the heavier one looks great, a lot better than the skinnier one”, I don’t think I’ll ever be quite the same. Maybe more susceptible to being triggered, maybe with less of a healthy mindset.. I’m not sure. This is just my experiences. What I’m sure we can agree on is that eating disorder life (if you can call it that) is a mess. To be recovered is a true blessing (:

        sending love and light your way darling x

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  6. I love this, I am currently going through treatment for anorexia and its hard to see what life would be like without anorexia..
    I am so happy for you & glad you got through this, it gives ever one of us suffering hope knowing it can be over come 🙂

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    1. bless you darling xx I’ve had such a rough rough few days and found myself feeling guilty for a lot. I’m going to allow myself some forgiveness because maybe I’ve helped someone today. This was so hard for me to post at one time, but one day I stopped protecting anorexia and let everybody know the truth. It always happens eventually 😢 I’m so proud of you because I know how hard this is! It’s heartbreaking thinking of all those out there who still suffer, but I pray for them. Sending you much love and light ❤️

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      1. Yes please allow yourself forgiveness, everyone has bad days from time to time, its not a straight forward road but you seem to be doing amazingly so dont forget that! Anorexia needs to be broadcasted with the harsh truth so people will hopefully start to understand as many still don’t.. forever tell your journey and be proud of yourself for how far youve come..

        sending you love too xx

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