Recovery Story: I start each day with a commitment to me and a slap in the face to anorexia.
Sarah, is 39 and from Middlesborough
My eating disorder recovery can be defined by denial, fear, relief, anxiety, shame, guilt, disbelief, chaos all culminating in the one thing that needed to happen for me to get to where I am today...commitment.
I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa in August 2017, but I denied it was happening to me.
The diagnosis was clearly just someone’s misconception of how I was.
Yes, I’d got a bit skinny, but I was super-fit.
Yes my hair was falling out; my periods had stopped and my skin was flaky, but I ran like a Gazelle; could do the most challenging HITT workouts with a smile on my face; could fit into the tightest dresses, and I had a heart rate that would rival Mo Farrah!
Even when being rushed into hospital due to my heart rate of 31 BPM and nearing heart failure, I denied all acceptance of my diagnosis.
My first element of recognition into the reality of my situation was when I was offered a bed on an inpatient ward.
At the time I was 39 and standing in my kitchen with my husband deciding what to do as my child sat watching TV in the other room was a significant moment in my recovery, as was my inpatients treatment, but what it didn’t give me was true insight or neural rewiring.
Yes my weight restored, but the relapse spiral I went into post discharge and the compulsive behaviours and restrictive patterns highlighted that nothing had changed in my head.
Anorexia still had a stranglehold, and it wasn’t until January 2019 when, with a second admission looming and the culmination of my CAT therapy, that something clicked.
True realisation and insight into my illness was triggered and in that moment, with my nurse and dietitian at my side I realised that anorexia could be beaten, but there was no magic pill; there was no quick win but the answer was pretty simple: acknowledge the illness; accept that it wasn’t my fault; ask for and accept help; say things out loud; be honest; stop hiding; notice and accept my true fears; brace for impact and challenge and commit to the right actions for recovery every minute of every day. I’m now nine months into what I call ‘real recovery’ and in that time I’ve grown into a bigger, brighter, stronger more capable woman than I have ever been.
I quit my job and turned recovery into my new career. I worked on nothing but me and rebuilding both my body and brain that had been damaged but not destroyed by this horrendous illness.
I’ve increased by 4 dress sizes, which at times is difficult to embrace, but what that increase has resulted in is a calmer and therefore more focused and productive mind.
The fog of anorexia has lifted and I can start to see the real joy and pains of life; I feel things again and I’m part of things again.
Every single day I wake up and regardless of how I feel or what anorexia is shouting at me about, because she still does and at times incredibly loudly, I grab a bowl, fill it with cereal and milk and start each day with a commitment to me and a slap in the face to anorexia.
It has been the most difficult nine months imaginable and there have been times where I didn’t think I’d make it this far for a million reasons.
Every single day has been a whirlwind of emotions and a battle both mentally and physically, but I’m here and ready to share my story to support anyone else out there stuck in the fog of anorexia.
Find Sarah on Instagram @louisarecoverynow and at www.recoverylesson.com
- Nov 2019