Portfolio of Hope

Anorexia is a frightening word. Of course I’d known I was sick long before CAMHS used the term- I felt myself spiralling downwards. What had started as a ‘healthy’ diet got way out of control. Quite quickly I found that I was struggling to eat anything at all. I would cut out certain food groups (all fats), then cut out specific foods, and then find ways to cut out more. Every time I put my jeans on they were looser. I knew I was in serious trouble, sure. But it’s a shock, nonetheless; something like the first time you hear the word ‘cancer.’

Let me tell you what the repeated word of that label does. It makes you sicker; it traps you in the condition. They have defined you as an anorexic, so you must be thin, right? From that point on, whenever you eat you feel like a fraud. If you were a proper anorexic, you wouldn’t eat, that’s what the voice in your head tells you.

I remember when I started going to CAMHS and I was quickly labelled as anorexic, my condition deteriated and I was the worst I had ever been. A bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy, ‘what they believed, I would achieve.’ People had the expectation of me loosing weight every week, and so that’s what happened. I started picking up on behaviours that had never crossed my mind prior to being in treatment, and that’s why labels, in my opinion, are unhelpful.

The word ‘eating disorder’ doesn’t scare me as much as the word ‘anorexia.’ I’m not even sure why. I guess it’s because when you hear about someone with anorexia and you see pictures of them in the media, they are this skeletal figure, and I never felt like that. Like most people with eating disorders, I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with me. I thought I was healthy and that’s why I found the concept of recovery so hard. What did I need to recover from?

Even now, I still shudder at the label ‘anorexic’ but I can’t deny that it’s part of my identity. Even though I would say that I am 90% recovered now, the illness has controlled my life for almost four years, and so in a way, it is engrained in my head.

But here’s the thing you NEED to remember- ‘anorexia’ is just a word, just like your name is just a word. It doesn’t define you; it never has and it never will. You are your own person and you have the power to free yourself of any labels that are put upon you. You are not anorexic- you just have this negative voice that pervades your life called anorexia. You can take charge of your life- you can change it, so PLEASE don’t let it define you.

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