As a follow up to my previous post on size zero, I thought I'd share my experience with anorexia with you.
The Enemy Within
Something changed within me mentally during December of 2010, I don’t know how but it did. I looked in the mirror at 5’2 and 8st 2lbs I looked fat, obese. I naively took the decision to go on a diet before I got any fatter. I did not anticipate the disquietude which would follow.
My healthy diet hastily metamorphosed into a starvation regime. I began restricting my calorie intake to between 200-500 calories a day, the voice of my eating disorder began to dictate my life it posed as a friend and confident. I lost weight and for the first time in my life I felt in control, it was this control which spurred me on. I expeditiously developed a phobia of food; I recall taking a spoonful of food and instantly spitting it out. I was even concerned about how many calories I had consumed while it had been in my mouth. Calories and weight began to take over my life.
My life became a cycle of constant lies and deceit. In the morning I would pretend that I had consumed a bowl of cereal, I would wait until it was soggy and pour it down the sink, but leaving a few crumbs to give the impression that I had ate it. I would then run frantically around the house for half an hour and then walk to school.
In school I was in charge of how much I ate and exercised, this appealed to me greatly. This was the only time of day which I felt fully in control. However, that only accounted for lunch there was also the dreaded deamon that is dinner to be taken into account. My mother would make dinner every evening. We all had the same meal and ate every last mouthful. On reflection, I believe that without these goodly intakes of food at the end of each day, I would have become extremely ill rather quickly. So perhaps my mother is to thank, or perhaps the lack of freedom I was given by her sparked this eating disorder. The last thing I ever wanted was pudding, cake smothered in custard. Each night as everybody blindly yet blissfully gorged on their dessert all I could think about was the fat, the grease and of course the calories. Every meal time was a battle because I craved the food but of course “Pretty girls don’t eat” I would go to extreme lengths to avoid eating the food and the voice within would help me. I would put the food in napkins, down my sleeves, top and even down my tights often burning my legs.
The cafeteria was like the devils playground to me. I tried to keep my eyes fixed firmly on the ground; however I was still constantly tempted by trays of food. I began to feel that even the presence of food would passively poison me, simply looking at food made me feel horrendously vulnerable. Some days I would exit the cafeteria promptly and walk for half an hour. On reflection I think it gave me a sense of control and superiority over my peers because while they were eating and absorbing calories I was becoming calorie deficient.
I have always been in the middle academically never too high or low an achiever just average this began to prey on my mind. I was sick of being average I was determined to do exceptionally well in my exams. Looking back makes me feel rather emotional. I see a girl who was doing well at school, however was sorely lacking in self-esteem and became weighed down by an abhorrently vicious cycle of self-loathing and self-destruction. How I managed to get through my classes is an utter enigma to me, considering the copious amount of my energy which had perfidiously fallen victim to my eating disorder and extreme weight obsession. Looking back the whole situation seems so onerous. Every single calorie had to be counted and if I went over my calorie goal for that day I had to be punished. This is when I began to cut. Self-harm became my only get away a haven so to speak.
I had lost a lot of weight; I had reached just less than 90lbs; however you can’t live on cereal bars and natural yoghurt forever. I found myself craving sugary food, cake, crisps and other forbidden foods; on reflection I believe that the urge for sugar was my body trying to rescue me from the wretched depths of starvation. However the very second that I consumed a sugary biscuit for example the guilt, self-loathing and the feelings of utter dread set in. “I will weigh 100lbs tomorrow if I continue to eat.” However I wold continue to eat all of my forbidden foods until my stomach felt uncomfortably full, I just could not stop. “You worked so hard to lose all of this weight and now you have destroyed it because you have no self-control” Self-loathing sentences such as this would echo round and round my head.
I still hear that voice now, the voice of Mia. That is when the bulimic side of my eating disorder began. It became a coping mechanism it was the only way that I could deal with the guilt of digesting those forbidden foods. At this point I was weighing myself around 3 times a day and after a binge I could often put on 3lbs. Words cannot describe how bad I felt. It was like the end of the world to me. I would then fast for a few days, I’d begin to feel faint but I believed that this was a sign of control and success. I believe that the whole cycle as bizarre as it may seem had nothing to do with food and everything to do with me.
At New Year I was at my lowest weight. I was surviving on Coke Zero, coffee and Chewing-gum. I felt very weak both mentally and physically. The voice within which posed as my friend had turned out to be my worst enemy. It had destroyed me. The happy, care-free girl had been replaced by a complete wreck. When I look back at the photographs of myself from New Year I must admit I do look unwell , however at the time I believed I was obese. My body had started to reject food; it had become blatantly obvious that I had a problem. I felt so unwell that I had no fight left in me, I didn’t care if I was going to be found out and made fat again, I had no energy left, I had finally been defeated. I was then diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa (Purge type)
Food was and still is the enemy. I started an innocent diet with the intention of losing only a small amount of weight. I thought that I would become happier, more content in myself however this diet gained me access to a world of total self-loathing and self-destruction. A world which calculates your worth based on your weight and forces you to hide behind layers of clothing. I have reflected many times on what triggered my eating disorder. Perhaps, my mother’s non-existent flexibility with regards to meals was to blame for my twisted approach to food or perhaps it was today’s society and its obsession with thin. However one thing which I am certain of is that in a rather bizarre way my experience with eating disorders and self-harm has enabled me to develop as a person. I have become a lot stronger too and have learnt to use that determination which I have which aided in my developing an eating disorder to embracing recovery and becoming healthy once more. I recall during one therapy session stating that I did not want to get better “I’d rather be dead and thin that alive and fat” her response was “Jennifer, the voice that tells you not to eat….that’s the same voice that’s telling you that you don’t want to recover, you have to be prepared to fight.” I must admit that I still have days in which I struggle, days in which I feel disgusting, over exercise, restrict and purge. I don’t believe that anyone fully recovers from an eating disorder but I am sure one day I will conquer the enemy within me….the enemy that is myself. Follow me on twitter! Follow me on Tumblr!