There have been many milestones in my life. A lot of them in my younger years marked the beginnings of traumatic and negative experiences. Thankfully, the last eleven years have heralded a new start and a new life.
The early years were tainted by abuse and alcoholism in the family. A lonely child searching for love and approval… the only way she could see to gain this was by fasting or being sick. Food was the only thing she could control.
In the 1960s and early 1970s it was totally unacceptable to have any kind of psychological problem, therefore, there was no discussion around feelings and emotions and any problem was treated as physical. My relationship with food or my behaviours around eating were never mentioned, despite the fact that I was persistently losing weight and for no medical reason
I headed into my twenties happy and in love. Food was no longer an issue. Unfortunately, just before my thirtieth birthday, my marriage ended. The next ten years were horrific.
I had my first psychiatric admission for severe depression and attempted suicide. I was also seriously underweight – I had used the tool I was most comfortable with – FOOD – to cope with my feelings of despair and inadequacy. I had up to 3 psychiatric admissions in some years and often lasting for 6 or 9 months at a time. Most of them were for depression, self harm and suicide ideation, but beneath all of them was the issue of food and weight and the belief that if I was thin enough I would be ok.
During that time my children were taken into care and I lost all motivation to get well. By 1994 I had resolved all the underlying causes which had contributed to my illness but I was deeply entrenched in serious eating disorder behaviour. I was eating very little, abusing laxatives and diuretics, purging and exercising to excess. I was on a road to self destruction.
During that year I attended the first Bodywhys support group and began to realise I was worth getting well for and deserved a better life. Previously, I had tried to recover for reasons outside of myself i.e. able to mother my children or return to work. But with little or no thought given to me or my intrinsic needs. This was the first time I learned to really value my life. Through the support and understanding of the group I was able to make the decision to participate in an inpatient eating disorder programme and recover fully from anorexia.
It wasn’t easy but I have never looked back. In some way anorexia was my education and learning and has given me a very different outlook on life. I value my life and that of others in a much deeper and real way. My family is together again. We are united more strongly than ever and have everything to look forward to. Life is good!