Trigger warning: anorexia, self-harm
"I'm fine" I keep saying. "I feel positive" flies out of my mouth, it's like I'm on repeat. I must be okay, I can't let people down but in reality I feel so trapped, so isolated, so alone. I am imprisoned by my eating disorder and screaming in silence. I'm terrified that there isn't a way out.
I've never found that happy medium, the 'normal' eating that falls between restriction and binging. I tend to swing between the two. I am either relapsing with anorexia or my recovery turns into binging and purging and I can't cope with it. Giving into anorexia and restricting brings unbearable cold, I end up frozen to the core and my body is weak and tired. A couple of minutes exercise makes my body shake for the rest of the day, I can't concentrate, and I can't function. All I can think about is food, weight and calories. Numbers spin around my head, there's so many of them I have to write them down so I don't forget, forgetting would be horrible, I need to know everything, I need my life to be exact and precise.
Giving into anorexia brings so many worries and anxieties, I have nightmares in which I am eating and eating and eating and I wake up in a cold sweat. Panic. I'm unsure of whether it was a dream or reality. I worry about my health, I know I could die, I know I could lose out on life and opportunities if I am not well enough to grasp them with both hands. It's a spiral and it's all spinning around my head and it's making me dizzy. I'm constantly out of breath. Exhausted. Exhausted by this mental illness.
I try to recover and the binge eating or over eating comes along. I eat until I feel sick, my body sweating as it struggles to cope with food, my body is not used to food and being fed shocks it. I wake up in the morning and I can feel the food stacked up through my stomach and up my oesophagus and sitting in the back of my throat. I feel sick. I'm screaming at myself not to purge in the hope that I will hear myself over this cruel illness's thoughts.
One day of allowing myself to eat whatever I want leads to cravings, I hadn't eaten properly in months but now my taste buds remember pizza and chocolate and biscuits and I'm so hungry. I blocked the hunger out for months but now it's here and it's grown bigger and bigger like a snowball rolling down a mountain and growing as the snow sticks on to it but I'm at the bottom of the mountain and it's about to knock me down and roll me up in it too.
I'm so alone, so ashamed. I must pretend to be fine, I mustn't let people down by falling apart. I tell no one. I sit in silence and stare blankly at the TV without watching any of the programme whilst my thoughts eat me up. The sentences that are spoken in my mind tell me what I can and cannot eat for the rest of the week, it conjures up plans that enable me to feel safe. The images that come into my mind, seeing my wrist opened up, I'm not sure whether it comforts me or scares me. Is the door on the coffin the only way out of this illness? Is recovery ever possible for me if it just turns into binging? Am I trapped in anorexia forever?
This is my prison, my hell. I've never found a way to be free of this illness. I am writing this not to discourage others but because I hope that somehow by writing in the depths of my illness it can help someone else and help people to understand what it is really like in the grips of these mental illnesses.