‘My doctors said, ‘This is enough.’ I knew they were right. My body was giving up on me. I was a prisoner of my own mind.’: Woman shares anorexia recovery journey, ‘I’m fighting for my future’

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Trigger Warning: This story contains mention of eating disorders and self-harm that may be triggering to some.

“Quitters never win and winners never quit.

My eating disorder started about 12 years ago. During those first years, I did not realize I had developed an eating disorder. I was ignorant and just wanted to lose some weight. I thought it would make me more confident in my body. I soon started to listen to that voice. I started obey to it. I started acting upon its demands. I started purging, excessively exercising, restricting, cutting out certain foods, and counting calories. I believed it would make me happy and confident. That was a lie.

Courtesy of Kimster

I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was about 13 years old. When I got the diagnosis, it all went downhill very fast. The secretive behaviors I did, like exercise, purging, and restricting foods, became more and more present. Once my weight started to drop, I was admitted into a closed clinic for children with all kinds of mental problems. I was only 15 years old and did not know exactly what was ‘wrong’ with me. I felt very unsafe in that environment. There were clients who were very aggressive, and I was afraid they would hurt me. I stayed inpatient there for 4 months. I ate myself out of the clinic by following their meal plan and gaining weight until a certain BMI point. When I got out of that miserable place, I realized pretty soon I had not recovered at all.

Courtesy of Kimster

I continued high school. I kept myself occupied with homework, got a job in a local supermarket, and started taking driving lessons. I pushed myself. Reaching the top, getting the best results, and getting recognition for my effort. Because of this massive pressure, I always felt very stressed. And I started to use restriction as a coping mechanism again.

I graduated from high school. A new adventure was ahead of me: going to university in the big city! I was excited but also, I was scared and I felt insecure over being in a new environment, following classes at a high level, and meeting new people. I wanted to ‘start over.’ I wanted to be seen for who I was, not for being that girl with anorexia anymore. The first year was great! I had friends, went out, my results were good, and I liked being there. But I still had an eating disorder, and I had to cope with it every single day. I was struggling with food, had orthorexic tendencies, and exercised a lot. My weight started dropping again.

Courtesy of Kimster

I needed to get to the hospital. I was under 18, so I stayed at a department for children, where I was being fed by a tube for 2 weeks. Over that period of time, that happened three times. I felt safe to be there as the nurses nourished me. I did not have to be responsible, they took control while I finally allowed myself to rest a bit. I actually loved being there. It felt like some kind of safe haven to me. Of course, I knew this was not what I wanted life to be like. However, I was not able to get back control.

I went to several forms of therapy again and stayed in a clinic that specialized in eating disorders for 7 months. Staying there was not helpful at all. The therapists were very judgemental, and put certain stereotypes on me. They told me because I had anorexia, I saw myself as fat. I counted calories and I compared myself to the other clients and competed with them. Those assumptions were far from true. I got out of there depressed. I had never felt this way before. I wanted to stay in bed all day, felt a lot of social anxiety, and acted upon self-harm. Again, my eating disorder took over, and I went to another clinic, where I got admitted three times.

Courtesy of Kimster

This clinic was very helpful. Their method of treatment appealed to me. I learned a lot from the doctors and therapists. They told me to go against the irrational fears, to just sit with it, and most of all, food is just what you need in order to live. Besides, this environment in the woods was comfortable, and my groupmates were supportive and kind. I have great memories of those times. I was not there for making friends. I was there to recover. While I managed to gain some weight and learn how to cope with triggers, such as diet culture and stressful situations, I did not fully recover.

I thought a fresh start would help me seeing things more clearly. I decided to go to Australia for a month. I had a great time over there. I felt free again, I felt confident. Returning home was hard for me, and caused me to relapse a bit again. I turned 24 in 2019 and decided it was time to leave my parent’s house. I got myself a small apartment, hoping that taking responsibility would help me to get a normal life. I had a great start, got myself a proper job and really liked it there! But when Covid 19 appeared and took control over society and everyday life, I relapsed.

I lost my job, I suffered from very bad insomnia, and I was doing a lot of compulsive exercising. My weight dropped dangerously low, and my blood pressure, heart rate, and blood tests were bad. My doctors said, ‘This is enough.’ I absolutely needed to quit all of the movement and start eating again. I knew they were right. I knew my body was giving up on me. Everything ached: my skin, my bones, my muscles. I destroyed myself and never had I ever felt so weak, isolated, and depressed. But for some reason, I did not act upon the situation at first. I just wanted to end it all. I just wanted some rest.

Courtesy of Kimster

I decided it was enough! I was done with my eating disorder. I turned this anger into strength. I started to do the opposite of what my eating disorder told me to do. I started eating (fear) foods and forced myself to not act upon the restrictions and compulsions. I have to remind myself, and motivate myself, every day, every hour, every meal. I use mantras like ‘Eat and forget,’ ‘All foods are good,’ and ‘There will never be too much food in recovery.’

Courtesy of Kimster

This is hard, and in order to get myself fully back on track, I have decided to go back into treatment. I hope they can help me one more time in order to restore my weight and help me get back control over my life. As a little girl, I imagined my life to be so much different. I dreamed of being happy, being artistic, being among family and friends, having a pretty house, going on holidays. But this would not become reality because I wasted all of my teenage years. All those years, I have been trapped. I’ve been a prisoner of my own mind. I believed anorexia would give me control and make me happy. Now, I know it doesn’t.

My eating disorder took everything from me. I did not live, I was just surviving. That’s not a life worth living. While I’m far from where I want to be, I am proud I got this far. I am still breathing. I am still able to fight for myself and my future. Because, like all living things, I just want to live the best life possible…”

Courtesy of Kimster

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kimster. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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