So You Want An Eating Disorder?

This may contain content including pictures that may upset some people.

Eating disorders kill, that is a fact. They destroy your body and take your sanity down with it.

I was only young when I stopped eating. I remember being in primary school watching my friends eat their lunches while I ate an apple. I’d sit in my classes and stare off into the distance, my stomach cramping from hunger. Increased arguments with my mother when I wouldn’t eat the half raw chicken nuggets she was trying to force me to eat.

When I was 16 I moved into my dad’s house and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. My dad worked shifts so I was alone in the house a lot of the time. My weight started to drop and I started taking laxatives.

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I didn’t think things could get any worse but they did. At 18 years old, I moved into my own flat. I was scared and I was alone. I didn’t have a reason to live. I didn’t see the point so I decided to starve myself to death. But my body fought back and I started binging on anything I could find. And then I’d lean over the toilet and throw up until I spat blood.

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Eating disorders are not fun.
They are not cool, pretty or stylish.

Your organs will shut down one by one, your heart will fail.
You’ll wake up in the morning and there will be clumps of hair on your pillow. Your teeth will become so yellow and rotted from all that throwing up. Your periods will stop so you might not be able to have children. You will be so cold that you will be sat in a fluffy jumper in summer. You will grow extra hair on your body to keep warm.

Do you know what it’s like to have your 70 year old nan begging on her hands and knees for you to eat?
Do you know what it’s like to hear your best friend say “I thought you were gone this time.”
Do you know what it’s like to hear your 8 year old little brother asking you why you’re not eating christmas dinner?

Oh but you will. Eating disorders rip lives apart. They destroy your relationships with the people you love. You won’t care that your lying to people about why your not eating because you’ll have a little voice in your head telling you it’s okay and that it’s what you need to do.

Do you know how much self hatred it takes to starve yourself? To lean over a toilet and stick your fingers down your throat and not stop until you see blood. To take handfuls of diet pills, water pills and laxatives a day?

Do you know how unwell you will feel at 3 in the morning when you can’t sleep because your body is crying out with hungry? When your crawling on your hands and knees into the kitchen and shovelling food into your mouth until you throw up.

Do you know how much willpower it takes to keep running when your legs are shaking and your head is spinning but you can’t stop until you’ve burnt all the food off?

So yes. When I see people telling others HOW to make themselves throw up. When I see 12 year olds asking how to become anorexic and GROWN adults telling them what to do. How to hide it from their families and telling them that they can’t eat otherwise they will be seen as weak.

Yes I will report them. Yes I will get angry and defensive because my eating disorder nearly killed me and it’s taken so many beautiful people I’ve known.

Eating disorders are ILLNESSES not lifestyles. They are not something to aspire to. If you wanna live your life that way then fine but don’t encourage others to do the same.

Dear Charley….

*Written when I was 18 years old.*

Dear Charley,

When I look at the photographs from years ago, you sitting there with your ocean blue eyes and the fly away hair,
and the little blue dress,
it seems like a different person, it doesn’t seem like me
it breaks my heart.

I want to tell you that bad things will happen,
that you won’t always be that happy,
everything will hurt and you will want to die.

I want to warn you about that day and those nights,
I want to make you promise me that you won’t keep anything a secret,
because you’re just a child, you are only 5 years old and you don’t have to be brave,
and when you grow up a little,
you still don’t have to be brave,
you don’t have to be strong for anyone,
its alright to cry.

Afterwards, you will lay in bed,
you’ll be terrified and unable to sleep,
some nights, you won’t get to sleep in your own bed,
and you’ll spend the night in a dark dingy cellar,
you’ll shut you eyes and escape to a pretend land you’ve made up.

Soon it will seem like an awful nightmare and you’ll pretend it didn’t happen,
but it did happen,
and I know that’s impossible to accept.

By your fifteenth birthday, you won’t feel anything anymore,
you will be numb
and in one of those awful moments,
you will lock yourself in the bathroom and draw a blade quickly across your leg
and you will say to yourself,
‘if anybody is going to hurt me, then it will be myself’
You are in control, but I promise you that you aren’t in control,
its a cruel illusion,
because it happens again and again,
your exposed bones and scarred skin will not save you.

Over the years you will write pages upon pages and you will read hundreds of books,
and you will do you best not to upset or anger people.

You tell yourself that you are holding it together while you hide the scars under your clothes,
and you can’t tell anymore if you’re eating or not.
You will become so cold that you won’t like anybody touching you
and the anxiety rises up in you chest like a heavy weight.

I know all this seems beyond awful,
and I know there will be days when you are so tired that you can’t even take another step,
and whenever you want to give up entirely, just remember that you survive.
At 18 years old, I can tell you this, you survive the first time,
you survive the second time,
you survive all the other times,
these terrible things happen to you and you survive,
slipcovered in lies and scars.

What PTSD feels like.

I constantly feel on guard, waiting for something to happen. It’s hard to let myself feel safe, it’s like having a protection shield up around all of the time; just in case.
It’s like being held underwater and you can’t come up for air. You’re stuck there, it’s impossible to loosen the chain that’s around your ankle, holding you down.
It’s like being forced to walk over broken glass, without anything on your feet. But the feeling spreads all over your body. Scratching the surface. You can’t get rid of these feelings, they’re everywhere. They’re watching your every move.

You’re stuck in this constant cycle of remembering the traumatic events and fighting to forget it ever happened.
It’s not knowing what to do anymore, you’re an outsider in your own body.

  I have lost so much due to my PTSD.
I couldn’t complete my college course due to my illness, I lost friends who didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I’ve had people call me attention seeking, lazy, crazy, stupid and so much more.
I’ve had to cut so many people out of my life, who are or could have been in contact with my abusers. I can’t take any chances.
I’ve had to spend the best part of 2 years in a refuge, hiding from them. And still to this day I am hiding from them, I will always be hiding until the day they die.
I’ve had to change my name and move miles and miles away just to get away from them. It’s not safe.

PTSD is so misunderstood. People don’t talk about it, it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation.
When people think PTSD, automatically they think soldiers who’ve been in war. That is not the only reason that people develop PTSD. It can occur when someone goes through any traumatic event, whether it be rape, assault and child abuse and so many more.

My emotions are all over the place. One minute I’ll be consumed by an overwhelming sadness and i’ll just want to end my life, the next I’ll be furious with myself, with my situation, with anything. I hate who I’ve become, I hate this is the person I am. I don’t want to be this way anymore. I want things to be different but I don’t know where to start.

I lose so much time. I’ll forget the day, I won’t remember what happened yesterday or the day before. I’ll feel like i’m detached from my body, i’m over the other side of the room yet I’m sat somewhere different. I’ll be eating a yogurt but that’s not my arm, it doesn’t feel like my arm.

I feel out of control, the past swallowing me up like a tidal wave. It’s been consumed with anxiety every single minute of every single day. I can’t get away from my fears because they eat me up from the inside. Swooping down and reminding me that I’m not safe. I’m not safe because they will always be there, knocking around in my head, reminding me of why I should be on guard, reminding me of what happened every.single.moment.

I feel guilty. It was all my fault, because let’s face it, whose else was it? I feel guilty for things in my present life, I feel the need to fix things, even if I know deep down I can’t. I can’t make people angry because I’m afraid of what might happen if I do.

I just feel like this is going to be my life forever. So many years have been clouded by the trauma, I’ll never get that time back, I’ll never be able to have a childhood because that time is gone.

It’s knowing that human beings can be evil, they have the power to destroy you in a blink of an eye. That even people who you love and look up too can hurt you beyond belief, they can break you.

You’re on autopilot, no control over your thoughts, actions, feelings, dreams, body. Everything is my life is affected, I am wired into survival mode all the time. I have to be on guard, just in case. It’s like my rational part of my brain is shut down when I react to something my brain intercepts as wrong.

I’ll be sitting on the sofa, watching something completely unrelated to trauma and i’ll taste something in my mouth. Is that beer? There isn’t any beer in the room but the taste is very real in my mouth. I drink water, desperately trying to rid myself of the taste but it’s still there.

Anything can be a trigger, you have to be careful because you cannot be reminded, you cannot remember because that is too overwhelming and too scary. It can’t happen.

It’s feeling wrong, bad, taken. It’s knowing that my body will never be my own. They took that away from me.

What does PTSD feel like?
It feels like living in a prison. You’re rattling the cage doors but you can’t get out. You can’t ask for help because they keep you imprisoned. They’re whispering in your ear, not allowing you to ask for help.
It feels like hell.

Dear You.

A collection of anonymous letters to people who’ve been in my life, past or present. I did this idea a few years ago and I loved it so much, so I’m doing it again.

Dear You,

I can’t breathe without you. You are my life, my world. I would never be the same without you. You showed me the true meaning of family, after so many years of being abused and alone. I cannot put into words what you mean to me. You see my good, my bad and my ugly side. No one has ever stayed with me, through the tantrums, through the madness. I wish I could take away all your pain but I can’t, so I’ll just show you that I care and I’m not going anywhere. You expect nothing from me, and thank you for that.

I’m not the strong one, you are.

Dear You,

Fuck you. You spent 19 years of my life, sucking the innocence away from me. If I could go back, I’d speak up a lot earlier. You have turned me into a monster. I fear for my life, for my mind because of you. Will that ever go away? Who knows. I can never get that innocence back because of you. I feel things so intensely now, and that’s not always a good thing. I don’t know who I am because I spent the majority of my life in your grip. You don’t care about me, you don’t care about anybody. All you care about is yourself and getting as much money as you can. I will never forgive you.

Dear You.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I had to leave you. I’m sorry you’re suffering too. But I couldn’t stay. I had to get out while I could. Your words, your blows knocked me down every time. You’re the best though, when you’re sober. I wish you could be like that all the time. I’m sorry. I hope one day we can build bridges.

Dear You,

I’m sorry I missed out on all those precious last years. You were the best ever, you did everything for me. You let me have a few precious hours away from the chaos at home. I wish I could rewind time and see you again. I miss you so much. I think of you everyday. I wish I could have been there at your funeral saying goodbye, celebrating your life. But I couldn’t and I’m sorry for that.

Dear You,

You don’t know me anymore, but I remember you. Dementia sucked you away from me. But I will always remember you the way you were. Beautiful and so caring. I’ll remember baking cakes in your tiny kitchen and rooting through your draws to see what treasure was hiding there.

Dear You,

One day me and you will meet each other in real life. We will take on New York City and take so many geeky pictures. My heart is always with you, no matter how far away we are from each other.

Dear You,

You are silly but so am I so I guess we’re a perfect fit. I can’t wait for many more adventures and laughs. I promise you’ll get there one day, you just have to believe in yourself.