I have never found it easy to share my story about my Anorexia. I struggle with people knowing too much about me, and am always afraid of judgement. Afraid it will hold me back in my career and afraid of people watching my every move. that fear holds me back, it stops me opening up with others and it shuts me off from the world.
Back in 2014 I made a deal with myself that I would try and open up more about my history. I decided that there was no need to be ashamed of it and that maybe my story could help inspire others. I made baby steps to do this, wrote a few blogs and began to talk more openly at work or with my friends. People were always very welcoming to my face, always said it was interesting and that it didn't matter but I always worried what they thought. Worried that they would see me as weak, worried that they would think I couldn't do a good job, worried that I didn't actually look like I had had an eating disorder.
What I wanted people to realise that just because you can't see there is something physically wrong with someone, it doesn't mean that they are fine.
Mental health is scarily secret. And when you have a mental health problem you have no idea when it will pounce. It could be hiding for years and years, you defeating it and then suddenly... out of nowhere... it creeps up. Slowly. Pulling you down. Pulling you closer to you. Eating you from the inside out. At first it's easy to ignore, easy to shut up and easy to forget. But as it beats you, further and further down, the mask gets harder to cover it up. There are days when you can't laugh, days when you don't feel like getting up and then days when you just want to give up fighting and give up on life altogether.
I had a best friend when I was younger, Anorexia, I felt like she knew me, she cared about me and she wanted to be a part of me. She taught me everything I needed to know. She valued me, she appreciated me and she made me feel good about myself.
But in reality she didn't.
In reality she was a manipulative bitch. She ran me in to the ground. She pushed people away from me, beat me up when I was down. Trapped me in a vicious cycle up until my heart nearly stopped and I was admitted to a mental health hospital where I lived for a year. She drove me to nearly dying for me to realise that maybe something might be a tiny bit wrong.
At the start of 2016 I was still fighting her. I hadn't thought about her for so long. Every November I used to think back to the day when I first got admitted to hospital. That little girl I used to be, scrawny and skinny hiding away from everything. Afraid of feeling things. Every year I remind myself I have done another year and each year makes me stronger.
I had fought her for since my discharge.
Had great days, relaxed more about food and wasn't obsessed with exercising. But then she creeped back in to my life.
In March 2016 my Grandma died after a long battle with Alzheimer's. I was swallowed up by so much guilt. I felt so lost, alone and like I had failed my Grandma. I hated feeling this and wanted something to stop the pain.
That is when Anorexia came back in to my life. She held me close when I struggled with the emotions. She encouraged me to run, to count calories and to let her befriend me. And she succeeded. She was there when I needed her most. And she remembered everything about me. After so long she welcomed me back, her arms opened wide to me ready to make my life okay again. Ready to take away that pain, make me happy and to sort me out.
Or did she...
She was a manipulative bitch and I had better friends now. Relationships that meant so much more to me and I did not want her to be a part of me. I didn't need her and I certainly didn't want her to take me close and closer to death... It hasn't been an easy year but it reminded me of how good life is without letting her in.
Being friends with Anorexia is not worth it. Whatever she tells you, the false promises, the affirmation, the encouragement. Whilst she feels like the best friend you could ever dream of it won't last. She doesn't care about you. She is just one big bully. I know you won't believe me but you must. I have been there, my heart nearly stopped, I was best friends with her for one four years but in that time what did I really achieve?
Was it an achievement being admitted to hospital? An achievement that I couldn't study the A-Levels I wanted to? An achievement that I had to stop my long distance running when my real dream was to be an athlete? Is being so close to death, losing everything around you and spending your 18th birthday in hospital really an achievement?
I should not be ashamed of my mini relapse this year. I shouldn't event be afraid that I had an eating disorder. Instead it shows I am a fighter, I am stronger than her. I challenge you to think about her? Do you really need her as a friend? What is she really giving you that is positive in life? I guarantee it will be short term happiness, face deep and not long lasting or worth it.
It hasn't been an easy fight but I am proud to stand here and told you I have made Anorexia my worst enemy.