Another guest blog from another incredibly strong Recovery Ninja. Sometimes when people have lived with ED for years, decades and most of their life, they forget there is a life outside of it. This is NOT the case, however long you’ve kept ED a secret, however long you’ve been controlled by your disorder, you CAN recover. You just need to find that spark and take the plunge into recovery.
This is Wild Geese’s story….
My eating disorder manifest itself when I was 12 years old. I thought I was pregnant. My periods had started when I was 10 years old, but the sexual abuse started when I was 4 years old. Suddenly my periods stopped. I was even more confused than ever. I couldn’t make sense of what was being done to me, and now I couldn’t make sense of what my body was doing to me. I’d had a sex education class at school and realised my periods could only stop if I was pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant, I’d got anorexia, but it would be a few years later before I had a name for this. I tried to tell m parents, but they didn’t care for me; I was badly neglected. I was told it was my fault my older sibling abused me.
Fast forward, I’m 18. I’m a student nurse. I get raped by a colleague. I leave the course with immediate effect. I am homeless. I shack up with a guy I met on a plane a few months previously. He abuses me for almost 10 years and fed my anorexia as he hated me being a “normal” weight. He controlled everything I ate…and did.
Fast forward, I’m 38. I’m in a loving relationship with an amazing man who loves me dearly. I’m still anorexic. I’ve not sort help as I’m too ashamed. I’ve always hated my eating disorder, but I can’t confess to it as people will judge me and I’ll be a failure.
Fast forward, I’m 38. I have a nervous break down due to bullying at work. I confess to anorexia. I end up at the ED unit here in our city. After 2 years of out patients I go in patient 3 days a week for 3 months this summer.
I’m in recovery, I’m almost a healthy BMI, it’s hard and I’m about to start a year long specialist psychotherapy course for my past experiences and how they still affect me. For the first time in years and years I’m looking forward to Christmas. I’m not consumed by calorie counting, my worth is no longer bound up in sizes and weights. Recovery was an impossibility to me once-upon-a-time. I’m now living that dream. I’m 41 and feel I’ve lost so much to anorexia, please read this and get help, and not waste almost 30 years to this hideous illness, like I have.
Team Recovery Ninjas has really helped me strive to recover. I’d click on the site everyday
We LOVE that one Ninja inspires another to share, it’s what we at Team Recovery want. We want everyone to know that RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE and sharing your ED story can help YOU and others. Please get in touch if you want to share yours.
We love to share positive and powerful stories of speaking out against eating disorders, speaking up about struggles and sharing insights to recovery. Everyone is different and everyone is unique, but sometimes stories just help us understand each other, and subsequently ourselves a little more.
This is Sam Newby’s story…
My destructive relationship with food began at a very early age although it took beginning recovery for me to realise this. Growing up I had a split family with both parents having new partners and more children with their new partners. From being very young I used food as a way to show I was unhappy, I would refuse to eat meals that had been made by certain people and I would hide food pouring it behind the wardrobe from the age of 7. I also became very fussy, refusing to eat certain foods or foods that could possibly contain something that I didn’t like or that could have come into contact with something I didn’t like. The refusal to eat led to me being force fed which I believe only made my determination stronger and supported my destructive relationship with food and made me angrier at those people around me.
Growing up people would just refer to me as fussy or picky and nobody thought there was a problem. I was quite a lonely child, tending to keep my problems and emotions to myself, hiding alone in my room and not interacting with my family. I always felt like an outsider and didn’t fit in with my siblings or the family who I lived with. I am part of a large family, living with 5 other siblings and having a sibling at my dad’s and a step-sister. Although I was a part of this huge family I felt so alone. I felt I was different to everyone else and I struggled to fit in.
My issues with food became more destructive aged 11, I remember so clearly my Mam had bought me and my sister the same trousers and mine didn’t fit. I needed a bigger size even though she was older than me, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. I felt so awful. My sister was often referred to as the pretty one and this to me confirmed that. I felt even more isolated than I ever had. This is when I began to skip meals and hide my tea or flush it down the toilet. I always did it in secret so that people did not suspect anything. I skipped meals where possible and became even more ‘fussy’. I was so depressed but hid this from everyone, I just felt as though no one would understand and no one cared.
This self-hatred alongside my feeling alone and depressed led me to becoming increasingly controlling of food. I skipped meals where possible and hid food, I became obsessed with weighing myself and became extremely self-destructive. Throughout my teenage years I went through a lot of difficulties trying to accept myself. I began to self-harm alongside purging through vomiting and using laxatives. I became addicted to the feeling of hurting myself and found comfort in it, using it to release how I was feeling. From the age of 17 I spent a lot of time in hospital with various illnesses; my body couldn’t fight anything or cope with what I was doing to it. One time when I was in there the nurses spoke to my Mam as they suspected I was anorexic, I denied this and they eventually let me home with forti drinks to build me back up. Although my Mam saw the scars on my arms and found laxatives hidden on numerous occasions and had taken me to hospital she still didn’t seem to suspect anything. I think she was just in denial and pretended I was ok, she didn’t want to know what I was doing but this just made me do it even more as not only could I get away with it, but it reaffirmed to me that I was alone and nobody cared.
Having an eating disorder is something I have always battled with and felt I was able to cope with and control until early 2011. It was my comfort, my constant and my friend. However I got to the point where I couldn’t control it any more, it was controlling me, it had taken over my life. I spent days not leaving the house just constantly binging and purging. I didn’t want to see anybody or speak to anybody; I just wanted to hide away. Worst of all, my little boy who was 2 at the time began to make himself sick and knew Mammy was being sick when I went to the bathroom. This was my
wake-up call to go for help, not that I wanted to be apart from my ‘friend’ but I wanted to be able to control it and still be able to do other things in my life.
I took myself to the doctors; he put my name on a waiting list for a counsellor and prescribed me anti-depressants. Unfortunately this wasn’t the start of things getting better for me, in fact they got worse. I cut myself off from the world as much as possible and couldn’t stop the bingeing and purging. I eventually had to move in with my Mam as I couldn’t cope anymore or look after my son. After being on the waiting list for the counsellor for 3 months and causing a lot of upset with my family, I decided I no longer wanted to be here and I took a substantial overdose.
My Mam found out that I had taken the overdose and I was taken to hospital and referred to the crisis team who visited me daily. After being home for 10 days I was admitted to psychiatric hospital. I was in the hospital for two weeks before I was allowed back home. During this time, they monitored my eating and weight and prescribed me medication but help with the eating disorder still did not come. The hospital unfortunately were not trained in dealing with eating disorders so they did not know how best to help me. i refused to eat at meal times and as I am an adult they were unable to make me eat, they referred me to a dietician which I found unhelpful as I am very aware of the calories etc. in foods and I know what foods are healthy and unhealthy. The hospital also tried to get me into an eating disorder unit however this was unsuccessful as I was not underweight enough to meet their criteria to be admitted. This was heart-breaking as I felt more and more alone. Where is the help and support? The hospital then contacted a local CPN who deals with eating disorders and I was again to sit and wait after being discharged.
Thankfully, my Dads partner rang a local counselling service who agreed to see me the next day. I have been seeing this counsellor regularly since then, working through my emotions and steps to recovery. I also received support from the CPN and a psychiatrist. I recently attended a support group for people with a range of eating disorders and this has helped me greatly. It is so helpful speaking with people who understand how you feel and who are non-judgemental. It was amazing to feel like there are other people who are similar to you, to not feel so alone and it was surprising how many issues we all had in common throughout our lives.
I have since been discharged from my CPN and psychiatrist and put back under the care of my GP, however if I need to be referred again this process should be easier. I have got much better over the past 12 months, learning to control my eating disorder and deal with my emotions in a healthier manner. It has not been easy, and I am not recovered however the restricting and purging have got much less and easier to recognise. I fight every day to make my life, and more importantly my boy’s life, eating disorder free. It has not been an easy road to recovery, nor did I expect it to be but I am fighting and I am surviving and day by day I get a little stronger and closer to being able to say I don’t need it.
Be comfortable in your own skin; that is when you’re most beautiful
I am beautiful because I’m me. Repeat this daily #RecoveryNinjas!