ANOREXIA AND ME.

This is a guest blog, to mark the 50th post on my web site. This young lady, Helen, is a former client who is now a valued friend. I was so pleased when she responded positively to my request to put finger to keypad and write something of her personal story. As far as I am concerned, it is important that people take such a brave step in order that we make issues around mental health much more openly talked about.

 MY STORY

Dee asked me quite some time ago if I would write a guest blog for her. I have pondered over this, spent many hours trying to decide what I could possibly write about and worrying about whether I would be able to do a good enough job. Dee’s blogs are fantastic, I look forward to reading them every week and I personally didn’t want to let her down.

I guess my problem is that I fear failure, I always have and the first signs of this were when I developed a severe eating disorder, Anorexia. So that’s where I’m going to start with my blog.

ANOREXIA, WHAT IS IT?

Many people believe that anorexia is a diet gone wrong, someone looking for attention by saying they think they are fat when deep down they know they are not.

Anorexia for me was a way of controlling my feelings, a way in which I could shut others out, a strive for perfection in a world that felt anything but perfect, a deep rooted self-hatred, the feeling that I needed to be punished and later when I was told I really wouldn’t survive much longer, yes it was a death wish. I would go to bed praying the doctors were right and I would stop breathing in my sleep, it didn’t do much for my poor parents who sat outside my bedroom door in shifts for nights on end listening for me breathing, I will add I didn’t find out about this until years later.

Anorexia, gosh that word, I really don’t like it! It is used far too often in the media, making it sound like just a word describing someone who is thin, not describing the mental torture the sufferer is going through.

MY THERAPEUTIC COMMUNICATION WITH MY TORTURER

I found this letter which I wrote to my anorexia when I finally decided it was time to get rid of it for good. I think this is far more powerful than anything else I could write.

Dear Anorexia,

This is going to prove quite difficult for me seeing as though you’ve been my companion for such a long time, but I do feel it is now time for us to go our separate ways.

We’ve been through a great deal together, you’ve supported me through many difficulties in my life. You’ve been the one I could always depend upon when I was having a bad day and then you were also there to celebrate with me when something good happened, mind you, the good times with you were generally when the scales showed a reduction in my weight or missing a meal and deceiving my Mum by saying I’d eaten it. But you never left my side and I really do appreciate that. In my loneliest and darkest hours you were there to comfort me. You and me were a team, with a common mission, to make people like me and listen to me, and to keep men at a distance. You were different to my other friends, you never let me down and the only times you got cross with me were when I let you down by eating. You protected me from the dangers of life.

Sometimes our relationship could prove constricting for me though and you wouldn’t allow me to let anyone else in. Maybe you trust Dee to help me to gain the skills to cope with life, a life in which I can cope without your assistance, which is why I am able to write this letter.

You had so much power and influence over me. I wanted to be as strong willed as you. You were my idol, my role model. Well, no one else in authority wanted to help me through my formative years. The teachers at school never listened, I only had my Mum. Your will power though, landed me in hospital for months at a time and I don’t think you ever realised just how much it hurt me to spend time away from my family, or what it did to us all and our relationship as a family.

I always thought you were my best friend and that you wanted the best for me. I guess you did, as you always had my best interests at heart. You wanted to protect me from emotional, physical and sexual pain.

When I look back at these three things though, I can see that in many ways you have made them worse. Emotionally I’ve been unstable for the whole of our friendship. Physically, you made me so unwell, at times the doctors and my family feared for my life. Sexually, well, there’s now an issue whereby I suffer from severe pain after sex and more importantly, I am worried about my fertility. I don’t know if you could see that you were doing all this to me, I certainly couldn’t. You’re my friend, why would you want to hurt me? Well I guess that’s what all my friends have done in the past but I sincerely thought you were different. Obviously I was wrong. You have caused us all a great deal of pain and suffering. 

It’s not only me, you’ve hurt my family too. I’ve pushed them away, shouted at them and ruined my brother’s teenage years – he’s the one who had to listen to people shouting “anorexic bitch” at his sister, as I walked home through the boys’ school and I’ll never forget his reaction when Mum told him I was ill.

That’s what you’ve made me – ILL. I’ve been obsessed with you and thinking that what you say is good for me. What you say is a load of rubbish though, all it’s done is ruin my life.

I was an intelligent girl but I’ve left school with my GCSE’s and nothing else, except an AS level in General Studies. You’re onside with the bullies, they wanted to reduce me to nothing, which is exactly what you’ve done, but in a slow, painful, torturing way. If it wasn’t for you, I would have continued my studies and would probably be a very successful young woman now.

So, I think it’s time we severed our links and go in our own directions. My life has been ruined enough, I really don’t want to waste any more of it.

Goodbye Anorexia, I’ll never forget you but my memories of you will not all be pleasant.

 

Unfortunately, my story didn’t end with anorexia, I have battled other psychiatric illnesses since then. These include; psychosis, anxiety and most prominently, depression. These have led to many suicide attempts and arms that are scarred for life. However, I do believe that had I not had anorexia I would probably have never had any of these. If you enjoyed reading my blog, perhaps Dee will ask me to write about some of the other issues I have faced one day.

MY PICTURE’s MEANING

Before I finish I would like to explain the photo I have used in my blog. It is my semi colon tattoo and also my butterfly, I did try and keep it to just the semi colon as it has meaning to this blog but it didn’t work. The aim of the semi colon project is to stand up for those who suffer with mental illness. A semi colon represents a sentence the author could have ended but chose not to, thus being a symbol for those who have contemplated ending their lives but have battled on. You will notice that my semi colon has cat ears, this is especially important to my story with anorexia. When I was in the depths of my starvation I was bought a cat, he was the runt of the litter and very small. I had to learn to feed him in order for him to survive thus in the meantime, teaching me to feed myself. My cat is very special to me and I do believe he saved my life. He has continued to be a massive support through my other mental illnesses and now knows when I am going to relapse before I do!

A quick mention about the butterfly as it’s appeared in my photo. The butterfly is there to assist when I have the urge to self-harm, a butterfly can’t fly if you cut its wings! I can’t fly if I’m not here. After having it I found out about the butterfly project, with the exact same meaning!

 

Dee speaking - thank you so much Helen, I am so proud of you. Do check out the rest of my web site or my Facebook page  for information on the face-face or distance therapy via Skype that I offer and get in touch for any further information. 

Podcast - Press play to listen or download it here:

Comments

This amazing blog was written by my daughter. The one we fought for years to save. We eventually did this with the help of another amazing lady, Dee.
Hi Pat, Thank you on behalf of Helen - and myself. It will be hard for people to understand what it must have felt like for you battling for so long supporting Helen. Another strong woman! Much love, Dee
Well done Helen on not just writing an amazing inspirational blog but also for conquering through this god awful illness. I love the story about the butterfly, just lovely. I wish you all the very best, be strong and balanced, you're amazing. X
Hi Pam - thank you for commenting - I will make sure that Helen sees your message. Dee
Thank you for your honest, brave words. You have touched me, I feel your pain but also your strength. With permission I would very much like to share your post with others to help them too
Hi Rebecca - have messaged you. Dee
That is an amazing letter you wrote to anorexia Helen - you are an amazing strong beautiful lady and I am so honoured to have been part of your journey and witness your great strength and courage. You inspire me and I know you will achieve all your dreams.
Thanks for reading this Vicki and for your lovely comments. Sure you'll never forget those days you waited for me to eat. Thanks for all you've done for me x

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