Twenty-six-year-old Jadri Fourie is a recovering anorexic and bulimic. It's been an 11-year journey.
Fourie, born and bred in Potchefstroom, excelled in athletics at school. She has a few wins to her name from participating in the SA national championships in her early teens. Fourie tells HuffPost SA that although she was taller than her peers and had more muscle mass owing to rigorous exercise, she was never really worried about her weight. "I was such a happy soul," she says.
"Then one day a boy made a comment about me looking like a man and gave me a silly nickname, which caught on pretty quickly," she says. This, coupled with comments about her putting on some weight, especially by "someone very close to her" who "reminded her daily" of this, bothered her. At 15, Fourie had tried various diets and removed some sugary items from her diet. She became obsessed with being thin.
"When I got back to school, everyone noticed that I was looking slimmer and my mom was very proud of me. I liked it. Since then, things have never been the same. I guess there's no one real reason why it [eating disorder] happened, but rather the influence of a lot of different situations," she says.
Reflecting on the 11 years, she has shared with HuffPost SA what she has lost in this recovery journey:
- I have definitely "lost" my obsession with calories and food intake to a very large extent
- I have lost the need to overcompensate with exercise when I feel I have eaten too much. I also have no more dependency on any diet pills or any kind of method that can make me lose weight
- I have lost my fear to be around people and engage in social events
- I have lost and damaged a lot of relationships because of my eating disorder
What Fourie has gained:
- Weight. I've gained weight! LOL!I think the biggest misconception about recovery is that people think individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia will all of a sudden gain copious amounts of weight quickly and that all of the behaviours they have learnt during the course of their eating disorder will just disappear.
- I have gained self confidence, even though I never thought it to be possible, and as the signs of my femininity have reappeared, I feel softer and beautiful in a way I can't really explain
- I have also gained energy - something I took for granted so much. As soon as my body had some fuel I could laugh again, I could enjoy and engage in conversations with my family and friends and I could actually stay awake for a full day just to see the sunset. I can do maths, my hair doesn't fall out anymore, my skin looks differeny, like human skin. I can maybe possibly have babies one day.
- I have also gained new relationships and have also had the opportunity to re-establish broken relationships
Fourie says the recovery process has been a long and difficult one, and confesses that she has relapsed and had to start afresh. "You have to wake up every morning and fight a battle against your mind. You have to reset so many times during the day, just to remind yourself why you are doing this."
She has been seeing a psychiatrist and she is determined. "I cannot imagine living the rest of my life like this. Who will you grow old with? Who will travel the world with you? How will you have a family and how would you be able to raise your little babies?" she writes in her blog.
*If you suspect you have an eating disorder and you need help, or you know someone who does, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 657. This is a toll-free number. They can help or refer you to someone or an organisation that can.