The Start, Middle and End Of My Anorexia by Rebecca Charlotte Scholey
I have always been a very academic person and as long as I can remember I have driven myself to always do my best. At the age of 14, I begin my GCSE years at school. We were doing 2 exams a year earlier than the bulk of the GCSE exams so at 14 I began to experience the pressure of exams, revision and coursework for the first time. I put so much pressure on myself to do well and be the best that I began to feel like everything was out of control. My only option to regain that control was to control my eating and what I put in my body. At first I began to eat 'healthy' thinking it was the best for my body which now spent many hours stationary studying after school and therefore, in my mind, not using any calories and I would get fat. This soon turned into participating in extra exercise and reducing food intake. My weight fell off me and I felt like I was 'winning'. I was 'achieving' something during my exam years when I felt that I couldn't fulfil my potential in academia. I was awarded 2 GCSE A*s that year and I was 6 stone and I hadn’t had a period in over a year. I felt amazing; my anorexia was in full swing.
My younger sister and I have always been very close; we both love horses and at the time shared a pony called Ginger. We would ride out together with friends on weekends for hours. I had no energy and soon got too tired to join in. I would sit at the side and watch them having fun being carefree. I felt so tied to my routine of exercise and only eating certain foods at certain times. I would watch my sister and friends and I wanted to be like them so much, but the anorexia in my brain just wouldn't let me let go of the control over my body. I was split in 2. Half of me wanted my life back, half of me wouldn't let me. I would ride out into the middle of fields, dismount my pony and sit and cry in the grass. I felt helpless to the disease which now ruled my life. My parents were distraught and had no idea how to help me. If they tried to talk to me I would get so angry and upset. Mum forced me to the doctors once, I cried the whole time, adamant that there was nothing wrong with me and why couldn't they just leave me alone? That year we went on a family holiday to Menorca. I looked skeletal in my bikini but I loved it. I felt warm for the first time so long. I never felt warm at home anymore. It wasn't until I got home and the photographs were developed that I realized what I looked like to other people. I was embarrassed of anyone ever seeing that photo. Something in my head clicked, and combined with my love for horses, I knew I wanted to get better so I could ride and compete again. This is when my recovery began. It was a long and hard recovery, at times you felt like you would never be 'normal' again. My determination to become fit enough to ride my pony properly and go on long group hacks with my friends was the driver getting me through this emotional journey. I was determined to get my life back out of the clutches of anorexia. It took over a year of food diaries, regular dietitian appointments and huge amounts of support from my family before my BMI came back into the healthy range. I completed my GCSE's at 16 years old and achieved A*s in all 10 exams. I proved to myself I could eat and still do my best. The 2 were not connected emotionally anymore.
I went on to achieve all A's in my A levels, get a first class degree at university and was offered a PhD opportunity, all without my eating disorder. I still need the support of my family and friends today. I would never want that life again but it’s something that you never forget. I realise now that I am not fat and I never was. I try to keep fit by going to the gym and walking my dog but it’s not an obsession anymore. During my recovery I was not aware of any help lines or online support for my disease. I didn't know anyone else who had suffered and my friends and family didn’t/couldn’t understood why I did what I did although I knew they were trying to. It was quite lonely and you felt like a black sheep, everyone could see you were ill but didn't know how to talk you about it, if at all. 12 years later I have discovered this charity and the amazing work that it does raising awareness and providing support for those suffering the complexities of eating disorders who feel like they can never have a normal' life. My life would have been very different during the last had I not chosen to beat my anorexia at the age of 15.