Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Your stories inspire us.
My Story - Ella
"Recovery and anorexia were two words I would have never put together in 2012, the year I was hospitalised and diagnosed with anorexia. I had a full-time job working with children. I had a boyfriend, a weekend job and I was going to the gym A LOT. I was in complete denial when I was admitted to hospital but was told that if I discharged myself I wouldn’t come back from this. I was eating three meals a day - BIG meals full of veggies. That’s how nobody noticed.
After my admission to hospital and finally my acknowledgement (which wasn’t easy) that I had anorexia, the next 12 months were HARD. I gave up work to attend an intensive care program. The hardest part of that was being told I was unlikely to have children. Recovery was hard work - everyone watching your every move and the anxiety of gaining weight. Always being told “it’ll be worth it”, finally I started to get friendships back on track and build a life of going out and meeting new people. I found some resemblance of happiness again which didn’t revolve around control.
Eight years down the line I have a five-year-old daughter. I am in a happy relationship. I still have doubts about myself and my weight probably more than most “normal” people. I don’t always like the way I look, almost every situation that has a drastic effect on my mental health gives an ‘invitation’ to the eating disorder. But I can’t go back. I am now the protector of my daughter and I will not let her grow up to be worried about her weight, with social media now being a big issue too. Some may never fully recover, but you can learn how and when to act on it. You can do this. There is a way out. It doesn’t ever go away but you are stronger and you deserve this."
My Story - Anna
"I've been uncomfortable in my own skin for a few years, small comments from when I was younger about how I look, being called fat and ugly (I know everyone gets that, it's rubbish). One day, I decided to take a step to change, I wanted to take control so I started going to the gym. I went for a while and got frustrated I couldn't see any difference and I wanted to take another route. So, I stopped eating. I did 6-months of therapy, despite it being the hardest thing I've done, and am a normal weight.
Mentally, my mind is somewhat still confused and food is still challenging for me. I try to ignore it now but maybe that's the wrong approach. Living with Anorexia is a thing, and that's what I'm learning to accept. It's a part of me and will always be in the back of my mind trying to control what I do and how I feel about myself. I have to just try my hardest to remind myself that it's ok, and I am healthy now, I should do it in the right way not because I want to look a certain way because I want to be comfortable about myself.
I'm still working on myself, but it's ok to not be all there. A lot of the things I say to people, especially people closest to me, is influenced by my eating disorder experience. One thing I have realised is important, is to have self-love and happiness in the centre of everything you do. Nurture your soul. Sharing my story with you is my way of doing it. It's okay to feel lonely, and if anyone reading this feels the same or somewhat similar know, you're not alone."
My Story - Kate
"I have now been in full recovery for over 3 years but it’s not been an easy journey. I was diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa at 21 but my distorted relationship with food began many years earlier. My road to recovery wasn’t easy but my friends and family were great. They didn't always understand what I was doing to myself but they were patient and were just there when I needed them.
My tipping point was when I was 26 and it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a period for years. When I mentioned it to the doctor he said that I might not be able to have children. It was like a light had been switched on. My way of life that was ultimately making me miserable was going to dictate my future. At that point, I decided to make a change in not only my eating habits but my life so I resigned from my stressful job and started a part-time degree in animal welfare. This new focus really gave me strength and without the stress of a full-time job I was able to concentrate on my recovery.
I am now 32 and things are very different. I eat what I want and I try to keep fit but it’s not a priority. I have recently had a little boy and will be getting married in the summer. I can’t say that I love my body, but it's not an obsession anymore. I’m not overweight and I can see that now. I never thought I would cope with my body changing during pregnancy but I’m stronger than I think I am and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved. You will get through this but you can’t do it alone so talk to your friends and family. They won’t understand how you are feeling unless you talk to them. Your journey may not be an easy one, but I can assure you that life on the other side is so much better."
My Story - Olwen
"For 40 years, I believed that to be feminine, I needed to be thin. However, after recovering from anorexia, I was surprised and delighted when I saw in the mirror a more rather than less feminine-looking person. I began to enjoy experimenting with clothes in different styles and colours. Furthermore, I now felt like other people, whereas while suffering from anorexia, I always felt ‘different’ from others: I had little physical energy and little desire to join in with social activities, through fear of situations involving food which I considered scary and unsafe. I felt like a wistful observer of other people’s enjoyment of life, unable to participate myself, due to being trapped in a web of anxieties.
Recovery enabled me to break out of this web and freed me to develop and enjoy many new relationships. Having now been in recovery for almost 8 years, at age 57 I consider recovery a turning-point, enabling me to enjoy a full, active life which is no longer dominated by anxieties about food and weight."
A Parent's Story - Jane
"Living life free from an eating disorder is achievable. For me and for my daughters, sustained recovery is based primarily on their courage, their determination to be well and to live a good, full, and happy life again, and about the professional support they’ve been given in treatment. Judging from what they say, it’s also about the love and support they’ve received from their family and a few close friends. But most importantly, it’s about them learning to know themselves and their vulnerable times, to take small risks in life, to grow as people and recognise their personal achievements, and to survive all the bad times – some incredibly bad times. I am so proud of them."
A Parent's Story - Helen
"She’d been ill for two years before getting to the unit and was there for five months, so we were so longing for her recovery. We’d put our hope in weight restoration being the answer – the cure – and then we discovered it wasn’t. That was terribly hard for us, especially as all our friends and family expected her to be back to normal now.
We had no knowledge about recovery and the progress that could still come, progress that did indeed come slowly and with time.
We noticed changes in attitude, not just towards food – although of course, it was a joy to hear her say ‘I’m hungry’ one day. No, it was more in confidence and in focus that we noticed small things to begin with. She wasn’t so introspective and quite so bound up in worries or so gloomy. She accepted an invitation to the cinema which she wouldn’t have done before and apparently shared a bit of popcorn with her friend. It was hard work motivating her and encouraging her, but of course, we did; we saw that as our principal role – that and keeping meal times, food, and eating as normal and habitual as ever."
My Story - Freya, 15
“Recovery is realising that in the eyes of your eating disorder, you will never truly be thin. You will keep progressing until it feels like you're tearing apart your whole family and surroundings. Take a moment to contemplate all the wonderful opportunities in life that food involves: sleepovers, cinema and shopping trips, dates, lazy winter evenings, Starbucks, spontaneous ice cream. To me, recovery is the effort each day towards a life where food is not an enemy, simply a nice accompaniment to a full lifestyle.”
What I have found helpful in my journey:
Throughout my journey of recovery, I took it upon myself to create little strategies to help me pass each day. -Try not to think of "all" the food you will put into your body; take each day one meal at a time.
Even simple things such as improving posture can automatically uplift your mood
Think of each bite as nourishing your body for a new day and a new start
If like me, thoughts after a meal are a problem, find a distraction technique that works for you, e.g. music
The person that truly has the power to turn this around is YOU
Talk to trusted people of each step along the way
Take things at your own pace
With each weigh-in, you are gaining a piece of your life back
Would you like to share your experiences and help others? We're looking for written recovery-focussed stories of less than 500 words. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org