Wednesday 24 February 2016

The place between relapse and recovery

Claire writes about how an eating disorder doesn't define the person you are.
- Claire McKenna

When people ask how I am or if I’m doing okay, I never know how to respond. It’s difficult to answer because I appear to them as ‘fine’ and coping better than I was before. I’m out with my friends like other 21 year olds, I’m at university rather than in and out of hospitals which was my life for at least 5 years, I’m managing to eat, laugh and smile.

But inside, I’m still facing that raging battle. I am still absolutely repulsed by the way I look. There isn’t ever a moment where I’m not feeling terrible that I have food inside me, just sitting there and I can’t do anything about it because I can’t go backwards and end up in hospital again. 
Every day, whether it’s walking around campus, out with my friends, walking to the local shops- I compare myself to every woman or girl out there. It doesn’t stop. I’m back to being the ‘big’ one again.

I may restrict, but I’m eating a lot more than I was. The anorexia keeps trying it’s best to force me back into its full grasp, sometimes I can disallow it to win and I continue to fight and remember how better life could be without it.  Many times I’m not so strong enough and I let it win and take over my being. In both situations I end up crying and getting myself in a complete wreck but I know the former option of accepting to eat is the correct option. 

Being sensitive to those in recovery matters as all it can take is for someone to make an ignorant comment and then I fell I have to fall back on to my anorexic behaviours. All the hard work getting to the point I am now can just immediately come crashing down again. Then it’s a case of having to try get back up the point where I was. It’s an on-going battle but I’m going to try and fight it to win once and for all.

I was asked in therapy “Who is Claire?” and I didn’t really know how to answer this question. I thought for a while but just didn’t have anything to say. The therapist prompted me and asked me what 13 year old Claire would be getting up to? What were her days like then? I then remembered always being out the house, being carefree, going out with friends all the time, having trips to McDonalds and not thinking twice about it, eating pizza at sleepovers or after drinking with friends. I wasn’t confident then or happy with how I looked; in fact I was very insecure then. But, life was different and I wasn’t being controlled by the disorder. 

There is more to me than my eating disorder because I am a brave person trying to overcome it. Sometimes I forget this. To the outside world it may seem as though I’m being “attention seeking” but it’s not that simple. 

I want to spread awareness so maybe I can prevent more and more people having this happen to them. I want to help another person seek help before it’s too late, before it escalates. The earlier the intervention, the more chance of a successful recovery. 

Now, I have my bad days and I have my better days. Being an aunty to the most precious nephew and niece keeps me going. They have given me a new-found purpose in my life, I have to be strong for them. I want them to grow up with a healthy attitude to food and life in general. 

For more on understanding eating disorders click here.

For more information about finding support click here.

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