Portfolio of Hope

It is my calling in life, I feel, to help people recovering from eating disorders, because, this is the very thing which nearly killed me-
would’ve killed me-
(although, I didn’t realise it at the time, as that lost, scared 14 year old who thought that the whole world was plotting against her)
if it weren’t for the people who intervened-
my team at CAMHS,
nurses, support workers, psychiatrist, psychologist, dietician-
the whole team at Riverdale Grange-
inpatient eating disorders unit-
which would be my home for 7 months.
If it weren’t for all these people, then I probably wouldn’t be here today-
I’d be buried six feet under,
the only thing to show of my life being that I ‘successfully’ navigated being thin,
being able to run the longest distances on the lowest number of calories…

It’s mad to think that I’m 23 next year,
mad to think that, next month, marks 5 years since my admission to hospital-
5 years since the day I thought my life was ending-
the day I was sectioned,
begging my Mum to let me run away,
Ambulance called,
detained under section 3 of the mental health act on the grounds of me being a risk to myself:

heart rate of 28 beats per minute,
bone marrow failing,
early onset osteoporosis,

I would go on to spend 7 months of my life in a specialist eating disorders hospital,
seeing my 17th birthday pass me by from a hospital ward-
and failing
and trying again
and again
and again
to recover.

Now, 5 years on, I am physically recovered,
the mental struggle?
It is still there.

When your voice pops back into my head now, though,
as it often still does,
trying to tell me;
who I am,
how I’m ‘too much’
‘not enough’
I have two choices-
I either listen,
running back into your arms,
reverting back to disordered habits,
I turn my back to you/
doing the exact opposite of what you tell me I should be doing.

Now, I choose to do the latter-
I choose to turn my back to you,
because, after taking my adolescene away from me, I refuse to let you even enter the door of my adulthood.

And so, now I do what you told me to do
when I was that lost 14,
seeing you at CAMHS every other day-
you told me to, everytime that ‘voice’ came into my head-
the eating disorder voice-
just scream ‘fuck off’-
you told me that; I might feel silly at first,
but that, imagining my eating disorder as a person, and not just as a concept in my head, would be powerful-
a reminder that I don’t have to listen,
that I can tell it to leave,
and that, actually, I am the powerful one,
always have been,
always will be-
even when (no, especially when) I’m feeling ‘bloated’, and the urge to restrict is really strong.

It is remembering this-
remembering all of the things I have been told by the people to whom I, literally, owe my life too-
George, Emma, Stevie, Poppy, Katie, Vicki, Dr Aldridge, Ellie, Stacey, Jack, Ben, Aliyyah, Patsy, Theresa, Melissa, Melanie, Mai, JoJo, Malcolm, Holly, Sarah, Julie, Lindsey, Claire, Ian, Karen, Angie-
(to name those who had the biggest impact on me)-
so many beautiful souls…
who, in remembering their kindness, keep me going when things start to feel hard again.

It’s remembering what Ben said to me that night when I was at my lowest-
in crisis:
‘suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’-
a reminder-
suicide can’t be undone,
but the way you’re feeling today-
can be/
will be
things will get better…

&, it’s remembering all the other patients, as well-
Lauren, Georgie, Kirsty, Liz, Megs, Megan, Charlotte, Jess, Hannah, Ciara, Jemima, Jaz, Emily-
such strong, inspiring, beautiful girls
who taught me so much
about life/
about continuing to live
(how it is possible).

This is why helping people recovering from eating disorders/general mental ill health
is my ‘calling’, I feel/
the thing that I want to pursue-
because I want anyone else who has ever felt like I have, to feel seen,
of recovery-
I want to show everyone that there is always hope to be found, even when it doesn’t feel like you will ever be happy again.

And so, this is why I write-
to provide hope to the hopeless…

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