Monday 22 February 2016

Eating Disorder Awareness Week - Sophie's Story

Life is full of challenges, surprises, let-downs and triumphs. These qualities all came to me throughout the process of my eating disorder. Overcoming my disorder was one of the hardest things I had to come to terms with. The big first step I had to take was accepting what I was allowing my mind to do to my body and knowing that it was a dangerous lifestyle habit to continue with. I sat with my Mum, who had been silently worried for me for the past year and a half, in a doctor’s waiting room after booking an appointment with my doctor to talk about my drastic weight loss. This was to be the start of my recovery and the start to a better well-being of not only my body but also my mind and myself.

I remember my Mum doing most of the talking throughout the appointment and feeling as if my disorder had silenced me from speaking out against it. As we sat there discussing about what had happened to my weight and what we suspected the cause could be, I realised for the first time how much it had effected my Mum. My Mum explained to the doctor how she traced it out to being the result to my stress levels during my GCSE exams but I could see that was not what she actually thought. My Mum had witnessed me cutting down on my food in order to give myself more study time after school and over-exercising on the weekend to make up for not going out during the week when I would study. I suddenly felt awful for putting my Mum through this and wondered if it was all too late to make amends with my body, not only for my health but also for my Mum.

When I returned home from my doctor’s appointment I was pretty convinced I had an eating disorder. My mind had become a dizzy blur since walking out of the doctor’s room, it hadn’t felt like I had an eating disorder after all this time, I didn’t know how much I was hurting those around me and now I felt like I couldn’t make up for all this. I sat on my bed thinking everything over, blaming myself for everything that had gone wrong with my body even though I knew it wasn’t my fault – it was a disorder. My little sister was the one who put my thoughts straight for me, she entered my room, smiled and said “You will get better, not because you have to but because you want to and I want you to get better too.”

Gradually over two years of recovery, I overcame my eating disorder and granted my sister’s wish. It was hard to start with as I was used to eating so little each day and now that my exams were over I couldn't use them as an excuse to skip out food anymore. I began to eat more with my family around the dining table as I felt more included there during mealtimes rather than isolating myself to eat alone in the kitchen because of my consciousness of being watched when eating my food. Although I ate less than them for a while, it felt like a better amount as I began to leave only what I genuinely couldn't finish rather than stopping myself eating the meal completely.

After I got more comfortable with healthy and substantial meals, I then made a start at introducing snacks and desserts back into my diet. I started with accepting healthy desserts like fruit with some yogurt at first and gradually accepted my favourite food back into my diet – chocolate. Chocolate is a good snack that can gradually be put back into a diet as it can be chopped up into smaller pieces, shared and also put with other foods such as ice cream, mousse and cake. I remember the great feeling of achievement I felt when I had my first full slice of cake for my birthday a year after confronting a doctor about my disorder.

Writing this nearly five years on from the doctor’s appointment, I am infinitely glad that I listened to my sister and decided to tackle my eating disorder for good. I now maintain balanced diet and have hardly any worries over selecting the food I eat. I feel a much more confident and secure person because of this choice and other people are proud of my recovery too. I would never say that I am perfect because no one is perfect – we all have our faults and weaknesses. By choosing to stand up and overcome these weaknesses, we choose to be brave and it is the most rewarding step one can take. By taking this first courageous step, people will remember you for this and not for an eating disorder. Don’t let the eating disorder win, let yourself make the decision for recovery and be proud that you spoke out against a disorder that affects so many people in their everyday lives.

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