Since being admitted to hospital back in July, I have changed so much. My days are no longer spent obsessing over running, food and weight, they are spent smiling real smiles and laughing real laughs.
When I was in the early stages of my treatment, I refused to accept my diagnosis of anorexia. I told anyone who’d listen that it was just a case of training too much. I didn’t belong in an eating disorders hospital, and so I appealed my section after 3 weeks, saying that ‘the treatment is for patients with anorexia, which I do not have.’ I claimed to have ‘no fear foods now’ and said that I had experienced no negative thoughts.’ Looking back, I was lying to myself. Like most people diagnosed with anorexia, I didn’t think I was ‘thin enough’ or ‘ill enough’ for the diagnosis. I was in complete denial.
Throughout the first 3 months of my admission, all I did was read running books and running magazines. I spoke to no one. I was completely consumed by my eating disorder. When I didn’t have my head engulfed in a running book, I was reading books on ‘healthy’ food, and scanning the internet to determine the weight of professional athletes. My notebooks were filled with calculations, evidence of my need to know my W4H% to reassure myself that the staff weren’t lying to me. Scribbled across the pages that weren’t filled with calculations were entries of everything I planned to eat when I finally went on home leave. I claimed to be in ‘recovery’ because I was gaining weight, but the reality is that I was eating to get out, hiding my emotions and claiming that I was fine, even when it felt like the world was crashing down around me. I believed that admitting that actually, I wasn’t okay, would make my inpatient stay even longer, and all I wanted was to go back home so that I could go back to running and healthy eating, the two things that nearly killed me.
Now, fast forward 7 months, I am finally ready for discharge. I have opened up and let people in instead of keeping all of my emotions locked away in fear of being seen as ‘weak.’
I am no longer consumed by running. Running isn’t all that I live for anymore, it doesn’t form my entire identity. I have other hobbies and interests- photography, meditation, blogging and art. I still intend to run, but the difference is that I have balance now. I can enjoy lots of different things again instead of limiting myself to running due to my compulsion to exercise 24/7.
The biggest achievement for me is that I have finally accepted that yes, I do have anorexia, but it no longer has me. I have started this blog, Portfolio of Hope, to share my experiences with anorexia and to let you know that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, and admitting you need help does not mean you are weak or a failure, it means you are human. So, if you only take one thing from this blog, I hope you learn to start opening up. Start investing in your recovery so that you too can smile real smiles and laugh real laughs again.
Stay strong and keep fighting my loves.