*Trigger Warning for all Eating Disorders. Contains details of behaviours and numbers. Please DO NOT read if you are struggling or feel you are in a position where you may be triggered*
“Beauty is not measured in pounds”
I wake up and check the clock. 4am. Urgh. Still so early. I toss and turn and spend the next 3 hours slipping in and out of sleep. My mind is full of numbers and planning and exercise. 7am. Ok. Time to move. God its cold. Why is my room so cold? Come on Jenny. MOVE. I force myself out of bed and go straight to the bathroom. I stare at the scale knowing the number will determine the course of the day. Taking a deep breath I step on fighting the urge to jump off and run forever in the opposite direction. No. I deserve to feel this pain. The numbers move rapidly and finally settle. Damn. Same as yesterday. Still fat.
I jump in the shower and avoid even glancing at my disgusting fat covered self in the mirror. I am always conscious of every atom in my body. I can feel the soft rolls of
skin fat on my stomach fall on top of each other as I bend down to pick up my shampoo. It makes me want to cut it off. I see my thighs, thick and wide as I scrub the badness away. I wrap a towel round me and run to my bedroom. I put on my make-up and dry my hair in a desperate bid to look less ugly. Now for the hard bit. Getting dressed in the morning is always the most traumatising experience. I settle for leggings and an oversized jumper. It makes me feel smaller. And hides the feeling of my forever expanding body.
I walk into the kitchen. I stare around. I don’t know what I like. I don’t know what I want. But I do know I do not like lingering in kitchens – its dangerous territory. What if I lose control and eat everything? I pick up an apple and eat it slowly savouring every last bite. I finish and I know I want more. I want toast with melted butter. I want eggs and bacon. I want waffles and pancakes and cereal. But instead I shiver as I clutch my black coffee.
I go about my day. It revolves solely around food and exercise – calories in v calories out. Every calorie is counted with meticulous precision. Every step taken counts. The aim – a serious calorie deficit. I walk/run all morning until I feel physically sick but I still cannot allow myself to stop. That would be weak. That would be wrong. That would be bad. So I stagger home, forcing myself to use the stairs because every tiny bit of exercise I do is crucial.
Its lunch time. I watch others unpack sandwiches, crips, chocolate, yoghurts and every other forbidden food wherever I happen to be (School, Uni or Work). The list of bad foods gets longer every single day. What started off as cutting out a few ‘unhealthy’ snacks years ago rapidly snowballed into a list that turned out not to be of what I couldn’t eat but of only those things I could eat. My lunch? A 70 calorie cereal bar. I kid myself i’m not jealous. I lie and tell myself I’m strong for resisting the temptation to eat normally. In a desperate bid to distract myself from the pain of an empty stomach, I drink copious amounts of Diet Coke. I remember someone once recommending that I try a flavoured Diet Coke. My head screamed NO! Not because I thought I wouldn’t like it, but because it was 1 calorie more. Did I not say EVERY calorie counts? Sometimes I allow myself to relax in the evenings but often that time is devoted to studying/working. When I finally go to bed I struggle to fall asleep. I’m mentally and physically exhausted but I can’t sleep. My stomach growls in frustration, my head spins and aches and my exposed bones make lying down in any position horrifically uncomfortable. But in some ways that gives me pleasure. I feel my hip bones sticking out and my concave stomach. I feel my arms and legs with no muscle left. I don’t ever feel beautiful or thin enough but knowing the number is going down calms the voice in my head.
As my body shrinks the bigger I feel. A starved mind does not function normally. I hold my breath around restaurants or take aways because I genuinely think I’ll absorb calories through smelling food. I turn down social events because I cannot cope around the food and the mental energy it takes to hold a conversation that lasts more than 3 minutes is monumental.
I am obsessed by food. I look at recipes or pictures of food online and feel guilty. How dare I even dream of allowing that amount of food to enter my body. It is hard to explain to someone who has no idea the high you get from starving yourself what it is like. I got a kind of twisted satisfaction. It’s also addictive. Oh so addictive. Because Anorexia is clever. It tricked me into believing that I was in control until the last possible moment. The moment when it pulled the rug from under my feet. This is the point of no return.
You see, you don’t just hand in your resignation to Anorexia. Oh no. You have entered into a contract. You can’t just walk away and say ‘thank you very much but I want to live normally now…’ You’re stuck in a very abusive relationship where you cannot leave. This is where all hell breaks loose and the real inner battle and torment starts. In many ways you knew what you were getting yourself into, but you convinced yourself that you could stop at any moment. However, now you want an out and Anorexia is not just going to hand the reigns back over. It has been the mastermind and puppeteer since the beginning.
So now you don’t feel strong when you refuse food. You cry in anger and frustration and sadness. It has gone from choosing not to eat to a desperation to be allowed something, but the physical act of putting food on a fork and chewing and swallowing terrifies you. You are desperate to eat without the guilt. You don’t want to spend every day head bent over the toilet seat bringing up every last thing you ate. You don’t want to spend hours running frantically. And now when the numbers go down there is a feeling of blind panic hidden amongst the satisfaction at reaching another goal weight. You’re scared because you can’t stop and you don’t want to die.
And as each day passes you grow weaker. Your heart and organs are beginning to shut down. You’re dehydrated. You’re tired. You’re hungry. You’re forced to exercise well into the night. You are covered in bruises. Your skin is dry and your nails peel. You have dark shadows under your lifeless eyes framed by a gaunt face you do not recognise anymore. And while the changes in your appearence are scary enough, nothing has changed more than your mind. Anorexia is a leach. It slowly sucks away any hope, happiness or sense of self you have. It is ruthless. It is unforgiving. It is a liar. And it will hit you black and blue until you have no fight left. And while along the way it has slowly but surely taken away your health, your friends, your hobbies it will not rest until it takes away the ultimate thing. Your life.
Anorexia kills 1 in 5 sufferers. Seek help. You cannot fight this alone. You deserve more than an existence, you deserve freedom. And I promise you this – nothing will EVER be enough. There is nothing glamorous or beautifully sad yet romantic about Anorexia. It is ugly. It is dangerous. And it is evil.
Take care guys