There is an Amazing Life Waiting for You
Our latest personal first-person story comes from Abi Fawcus, a talented designer and businesswoman who beat her eating disorder.
"I remember the day it started
I was on the beach in the south of England, a hot summer for the UK, I was an only slightly chubby pre-pubescent teen and there was this goddess, in a bikini lying on the beach, hips and curves like the rolling hills of my dreams, a figure let's face it my body shape was never going to relinquish however much I wanted it - I am a lean 5”2 these days.
We all went back to school for the September term, and perhaps no more would be thought about it except that in a hot house of girls it was ‘the thing’ to think about our weight and eat less or skp means, the problem was, I was much better at it than the others.
This stemmed into 2 years of full blown anorexia, a time when I pushed myself so hard both academically and sporting, obsessed over food and dreamed of breakfast from the moment I went to sleep, got very homesick and although by now I was not a pre- anything I stifled my growth and development into a woman.
I was sent to a psychiatrist that I hated, it was before this was really a ‘thing’ and he had a beard like Freud and was so stuck in his process we got nowhere - he wanted to blame my parents (for moving too much by being in the army, but I loved moving and knew it wasnt’ that). He said unless we could decide on the problem we could not start on the solution, Whether I said this was rubbish or not, I knew it was the lady with the bikini body fit for a goddess and the fact that I was very very good at self control. Like most things I set my mind to in life, I think he gave up in the end.
What did save me was my mother, when hospital loomed and and the threat of ‘nothing’ till you eat, she said no, she felt a punishment and reward scheme was not healthy either, and against the advice of the doctors looked after me herself, it was tough.
For any parent or carer out there, it is probably as tough for you as it is for us, the sheer strength you need to convince someone you love to do something so determinedly against their will.
A struggle that you know if they don’t they may die and they know that if they do, god knows what I thought might happen but a warped feeling inside so strong that it was akin to ‘not worth living’ in itself. There were no support groups apart from religious ones, so we went to some of those - I think to help her more than me - and bit by bit I started to recover.
By 17 I was skinny but not mentally captivated by anorexia, Mum had instilled an eating routine that I could stick to without worry and that carried enough calories.
I did very well in my GCSE’s but did not want to stay on and do A Levels, so moved to pastures new, and started to enjoy life, It took until my early 20’s probably to be fully fully free of the grip, and yes I am one of the lucky ones that has managed to fully free myself, it is possible and I suggest all should strive for it.
This is what I have learned
We are more than strong
Anyone who thinks we are weak because we are thin is so wrong, it is our strength, determination, and sheer will power that probably got us into this trap in the first place. But it is that very same strength that is the key to get ourselves out of anorexia again too. But also for many many things that we ‘want’ out of life. Believe me, put your mind to it and you can do anything, it has worked for me many times.
Believe in yourself
I believe that god and my subconscious are one and the same, some look outside of themselves for this strength, I found it inside of me, so whether it is ‘with god's help I can do this’ or just ‘I can do this’ it is a powerful mantra that when nurtured brings results, never say can’t.
The future is not the wild west
Part of my paralysis over eating was how the hell was I going to control what I ate in the future. My understanding of normal was so skewed, I couldn’t see without this micromanagement how I would not just eat all day long until I popped like Mr Creosote and the ‘wafer thin mint’ (for those youngsters, you may want to look him up… or not ;)
Well this is not the case, our bodies are built to function - if we start to listen to it, not control it. When we are full we stop, when we are hungry we eat, if we have a large lunch or deliciously naughty piece of cake then we may well be too full for supper or have a healthy week after the eggs of easter. We still manage it but it is not all consuming - which lets be honest sounds such a relief doesn't it?
Face the facts
This will sound harsh, but if you don’t eat you may not grow, simple as that. Although I can say there are perks to being short, a couple more inches would have been nice.
Give yourself an Amnesty
Calorie counting or whatever method you use to ‘make up’ for something you felt you should not eat, takes headspace, and keeps the lid on freedom. Try making an amnesty, when you reach a number that feels daunting to try and make up, let it go as your ‘amnesty number’ although hard to begin with, each time you do it it gets easier. This part of anorexia is the only aspect that did raise its tendrils, when I was in my late 30s and this was the method I created to successfully release that grip.
A crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wave
This was my mum’s favourite saying, and I have used it many times since. Whether you believe in fate or not, why let something that could be construed as ‘bad’ be wasted why not channel it to produce something great, that would never have come to fruition if we had not first been anorexic, Debbie and Wednesday's Child I think we can all agree is a shining example of this secret power.
Perhaps I am not allowed to say that, but my doctor told me to - it is ‘free calories’.
And lastly, there is an amazing life waiting for you
Anorexia is a little like being in stasis, there is not really any time to think about the future as the present is so all consuming, but trust me it is out there waiting for you to succeed and enjoy, there is so much life to live. Hand on heart I can say I live my best life, and it is there for the taking for you too… it's a brave step but worth every moment.
Thanks for reading this, I spent my 20’s feeling like this part of my life was a dark secret, that I would be judged, only occasionally speaking out in defiance of perception. But then I realised it was part of what has made me me, and to speak out is to help others.
I would like to thank my mum without whom none of this would have been possible,
and say enormous respect to Debbie Watson for her courage and the incredible lifeline she has created with Wednesdays’ Child.
I am Abi,
Artist, Designer, happily married with 2 lovely children and a wayward dog, or is that a lovely dog and wayward children.
- Apr 2021