When I was younger I always struggled at what I was good at. I was never quite good enough and the things I was good at never felt that good. But there was something I was good at...
I was good at having an eating disorder. I knew all the tricks of the trade. And over time I got better at lying, hiding food, causing a scene at a meal time... I was pleased with myself. I felt proud as I began to lose weight. Proud when I missed meals and no one knew. My anorexia praised me. She told me how well I was doing. She inspired me to keep going. People around me noticed that I had lost weight. And at first everyone said I looked better for it. At times I would boast about how much I had lost, or how little I was eating. Everyone in England always moans that they can't stick to a diet but I could. I was great at it! And soon it became second nature! I got a sense of pride when I was hungry and I managed to resist eating or if I hadn't eaten all day and managed a run. I completed the Bristol half marathon in under one hour, 40 minutes when I hadn't eaten in the week leading up to it... But is that really something to be proud of?
Overtime, I seemed to lose my skill of being the best at missing meals. My anorexia stopped praising me but made me work harder to become better. She got cross if I put on weight or if I ever relaxed. I would spend hours exercising every day, and would feel so worthless and guilty if I did eat. Not eating had previously made me feel happy and good about myself but now, it made me feel completely useless. Maybe that's why one day when I attended the eating disorder outpatient unit I didn't water load, I didn't try and hide my weight loss. Having water loaded for a few months, drinking litres and litres of water before I got my weekly weigh in, my weight dropped massively. Red flags appeared! I was banned from everything! And was submitted to hospital within 24 hours with the fear I would collapse at any point.
Looking back I was so naive to believe that I was good at having an eating disorder. Why was I so proud of myself for losing weight? Do you think it was an accomplishment that I ended up in hospital? What had I really achieved?
Since my recovery I have had to realise other things that I am good at. People are proud of me now because I am this far into my recovery! And life is so much better now! When I don't have a fat day, I tell my boyfriend and he is proud. Or when I eat a meal out of my comfort zone I tell him and again he is so happy for me.
Sitting on a bench letting the sun soak into me waiting for my train back to London, I can't help but think how far I have come and how much better life is without an eating disorder. Yes, I am still silly about some food, but a weekend away with no exercise and eating out for every meal no longer scares me. I am no longer sat on the edge of my seat frantically adding up calories as I eat, thinking about when I can next exercise. I believed I was only good at not eating, but I managed to change this! You can too! At the time being good at dieting feels great, but if you make it out the other side, fighting through your recovery, you will see how much better life is without one.
So, stand tall little girl, and face the world! Make sure you get up whenever you fall.