How can something make you feel so good about yourself but at the same time be so dangerous? How can something that seems so wonderful have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness?
That one thing is anorexia! She was amazing when I knew her (or so I thought). When we first became friends there was so much excitement. We would hangout late into the evenings, get up early and work out, she was there when I needed her and she was the one thing I could completely rely on!
Anorexia to me was this incredible best friend. Someone who got me completely as me. Someone who knew me inside out and knew what was best for me. But the truth is that this friendship soon turned into a rivalry. She started to dislike me spending time with others and she began to push me harder and harder. She pushed me every day, she made me loathe myself and loathe what I had become. She controlled everything I did.
I look back at our friendship. That friendship which was so false and fake. It was a friendship that nearly killed me. So why did it give me so much contentment? The thrill of missing a meal felt like I had won a gold medal. And it was so exhilarating. That’s the fact of it. Anorexia gave me this value, this worth that I was struggling to find elsewhere. But that’s a reason why anorexia is so dangerous. And a reason why as I began to fight her, I realised that I hated being friends with her.
One evening I got back from the pub. I would often miss family meal times and would justify it to myself by saying that my family would be happy I wasn’t there picking at the food, making a fuss and no doubt having a row with my parents about it. That evening I got back about 9.30pm. It was a few weeks after I had started attending The Child Adolescent Mental Health Services so my parents were much more interfering about food (so annoying!).
I arrived home and my dad was sat in the kitchen waiting for me. Our kitchen at the time was huge, a long table for all seven of us at one end with marble kitchen surfaces around the edge. He asked if I had eaten (what a stupid question!) “Yes” – it was so easy to lie and it didn’t matter, it was just a meal. He knew I hadn’t and started to quiz me. We stood there awkwardly and he wouldn’t let me leave until I had something. So I grabbed the nearest loaf of bread and start shuffling it into my mouth. After a few slices of plain dry bread I threw the rest on the floor and completely cold heartily said, “there you go, you better be happy now”.
My dad stared back at me, his heart breaking. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to say sorry but I didn’t. Instead, I legged it upstairs to the shower room. Took all my clothes off, turned on the shower, and sat on the floor vomiting over the toilet. I was running out of energy at this point. My cold naked body laying there on the floor. I felt so alone. After I was sure all the bread was out, I pulled myself up and into the shower. Sitting on the floor letting the water pour over me.
Then headed to my room, flicked on YouTube and began working out before crawling into bed. Cold, smelling of sweat and vomit, I was desperate for this to end. Desperate for someone to take this pain away. Desperate to die.
The weeks leading up to my hospital admission were similar to this. Vomiting, exercise, sneaking around. I didn’t know when it would end! Didn’t know why anorexia was not making me happy anymore. And this has taken me a long time to learn. It took me nearly dying, hitting rock bottom and having to rebuild myself again to learn that truth about my so-called best friend anorexia.
If you are struggling from an eating disorder ask yourself this – does the value you get from it really last? For me it 100% didn’t and it still doesn’t. I have learnt that anorexia is a bitch and very manipulative. I know it is hard to fight anorexia and I am not going to pretend I have had an easy battle but it has been so worth it.
And I guarantee it gets easier. I never thought I wouldn’t feel fat, never thought I could stop exercising every day, and never thought I would be able to eat food with unknown calories! But now I can and it is brilliant! Yes, there are still wobbles. But I can go cycling around Taiwan fuelling myself each day, I can lay on a beach in a bikini and I can go for last minute dinners out, boldly facing the unknown.
Anorexia is not worth being friends with! And that is a fact!