A scared, hollow shell of a girl wishes she was anywhere but here. ‘Here’ is a double disinfected table laid with a single low fat yoghurt, surrounded by anxious teenagers, sat across from a care assistant whose only known English word is ‘eat’, within a residential hospital unit in southern England, miles away from home. ‘Here’ is fear, loneliness, self-hatred, exhaustion, instability, depression, fragility, hopelessness. ‘Here’ is me just 4 years ago, in the depths of anorexia, where a Muller Light was scarier than the prospect of being pinned down to a hospital bed and force fed, and assuming this excuse for a childhood for the best part of 6 years.
Now, in my 20th year of life, I am one million miles away from that version of myself; I am better than ever. I’m not telling you this to make you pity me, nor to make you praise me. I’m doing it to prove that anorexia is nothing to be proud of, and that recovery is nothing to be ashamed of.
8 things that have made the biggest difference in my recovery
1. Meeting Jack
“You have to love yourself before you can love someone else” is an all-too-common phrase, but I’m so glad I didn’t wait for that to happen, as this wonderful boy who miraculously appeared in my life at a low point taught me to fall in love with life again.
2. Embracing Spontaneity
Anorexia involves a lot of planning, whether that be what you’re eating, when you’re eating, how you will burn the calories, how you will count the calories, or whatever other pointless non-issue, and embracing the joy of spur-of-the moment plans has freed me.
3. Taking Medicine
When I say medicine, I don’t just mean drugs (although more recently, anti-depressants have massively helped progress my recovery), I mean food, glorious food! They say food is medicine and that’s never been so pertinent. No one can recover while still dieting. There is no ‘junk food’ when your body truly needs it.
4. Looking Up
Whether this be simply gazing towards the clouds or the treetops or the stars, and noticing the beauty in nature, or actually realising that there is a whole world out there still to discover, I now know that there is so much more to learn that is bigger than ourselves, and it makes eating disorders seem insignificant in comparison.
5. Letting Go
Making new friends has really helped me to grow as a person, and I can’t thank them enough. However, it’s letting go of older, more toxic and unstable friendships, thats really allowed me to breathe. Never surround yourself with people that bring down your spirit!
6. Moving Cities
Moving to Edinburgh from Birmingham was a chance for a fresh start, and an opportunity to reinvent myself and put the past behind me if it were. Not that changing location solves all your problems but a new environment can encourage new beginnings.
7. Accepting Help
One of the main keys to my recovery was the unconditional support of my wonderful Mum. But I didn’t always see it as help, I saw it as a threat. And accepting that yes, she was usually right, and yes, she always wanted the best for me, was a really important moment.
8. Making Mistakes
Recovery has been a rocky road, thats for sure. The lapses and relapses and endless mistakes, both in anorexia and in life as a whole, can get you down, but I have began to embrace the idea that perfection is unattainable, and mistakes are part of the journey.
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx