"How could anyone not like food?"
"I wish I could have the self-control like you."
"But I saw you eat at that party last week. Surely you can't have an eating disorder. "
"You have a perfect figure- you don't' need to give a second thought about what you eat."
"There's more to life than worrying about calories."
"You're not even that skinny - people with eating disorders need to be skeletons."
These are just a handful of the unbelievably rather awkward comments I have had in relation to my eating disorder. They get thrown at me from every angle, not intentionally, just friends and family making mere 'insights', supposedly to encourage me to get better, into my heavily disordered routine of nourishing myself. Or should I say, 'un'-nourishing myself.
My eating disorder is a complicated one. It's not as straightforward as 'anorexia' or 'bulimia'. I have a strange concoction of OCD compiled with lots of features of anorexia, and throw in a bit of depression and anxiety and you'll probably get it right. Maybe that's the reason after being holed up for 5 months on an eating disorder unit in a psychiatric hospital in Central London that I was still considered that strange case that they could never quite work out....
I can't even remember when it started. As long ago as when I was about four in primary school, my kind-hearted mum used to bribe the school cook with Christmas presents so she could sneak a plain jacket potato onto my plate without anyone noticing, so I didn't have to eat what everyone else did. She would go any length to ensure I get something down me. However, my reasons now looking back at them for insisting I have a special meal or Lizzie 'would not eat' were to give myself a sense of control. That 'Lizzie' was choosing what to eat, no one else would and I continuously would get away with it. I didn't care being starving; it was all to gain that sense of success that I so desperately yearned for.
Things got worse over the years. Without even being aware of it, I resorted in secondary school to sneaking in food from home, and eating them in the school bathrooms, as I was mortified at the thought of other girls judging me for eating. I didn't want anyone thinking I was greedy, or ate too much, or ate the wrong foods. So I preferred to eat in solitude. Lunchtime would turn into an obsessive ritual at school. The bell would ring, I would hang around the cloakroom till everyone had gone to the dining room, I would then grab my measly rations of food I had allowed myself, and eat it in the toilets. That was how I viewed food. It was something to be done in secrecy, if done at all.
Even though deep down I knew I had an eating disorder, I refused to label myself as another 'anorexic'. My eating disorder would be different I decided. Instead of picking around at lettuce leaves, I would accustom my body to having a bite of a biscuit or chocolate bar throughout the day. Therefore, I would be moving away from the typical bubble of a 'salad-eating anorexic' to a unique, chocolate eating girl who could never possibly have an eating disorder. What anorexic likes chocolate?
In 2012, I had an epiphany. My friends were picking it up much more, instead of laughing at my strange eating habits, they started to comment that relying on a Lucozade energy tablet to get me through my school days whilst sitting GCSE'S, was absurd and unhealthy. I waved everyone off. I branded them ridiculous.
Time went on, I went to a few therapists but I refused to return to anyone once I thought they might have 'clicked' onto my strange habits. I plodded on....
During my gap year abroad in 2014, things took a turn for a worse. My life was simply consumed by food. Instead of attending my classes I had signed up for, I would wonder the streets of the city, trying to burn up calories, staring through the windows of delectable displays of food. I would often buy lunch but then proceed to give it to a homeless person on the street. My irrational mind told me that, "They need my lunch much more than me."
I was sent home from my program and after time, I became an inpatient in an acute eating disorders ward in Central London. . Whether the battle is scraping the last bit of butter out of the packet or sneaking down stairs rather than using the lift. (The stairs are strictly out of bounds for the unit.)
My journey has not ended. I would like it to, desperately, but for now it continues. I will fight till the end and as strong-willed as I am to allow this illness to fester, I am strong-willed enough to rid of it. I know recovery is worth it.