Not sure how to quite start this post, only that I know I need to express my thoughts to bring hope to others. So here goes…
Today marks a whole year since the last time I was admitted to hospital for anorexia nervosa. Those months were the longest and most testing times for me. It was here I had to make my decision on whether or not I truly wanted to get better. Yes, ultimately everyone of us wants to get rid of our demons, what ever form they come in. But do you really want to let go of the safety belt those fears provide for you? This is where I finally had a reality check. I always talked or screamed about how much I hated my existence and dreamed of breaking free, however I never thought there was a path way possible, so it didn’t occur I would have to face this difficult choice. Plus, I was quite content with being trapped in this blacked out bubble. Nothing mattered except the control over my body. So, do I say trapped in the raptures of Ana, where she provides a protective seal away from any risk of being hurt by other people through rejection or manipulation? Or do take a chance and put my feelings on the line, to overcome my eating disorder and hopefully for fill my ambitions?
After all these years of fights, punishments, self-abuse, neglect, loneliness, it was time I did something about this, for good. This was no easy decision, do not be fooled by the shortness of the sentence. It took me several weeks of pushing against the nurses before I finally hit the point where I chose to actively begin my road to recovery.
Though I am a long way from the way I used to be, the pain is still as raw. I would be lying if the times Ana creeps up in the day it wasn’t excruciating. However, was is dramatically different is how I deal with the demands of such a control freak that takes over the mind. Every time she tells me not to eat, I eat. When she tells me to go round the park one more time, I come off the park. If she makes me feel like a gigantic balloon after a meal, I remind myself that she is distorting my perception of the body’s functions. Naturally we feel a little bigger once we have eaten, drank, or are under ALOT of stress. The weight of the worry presses heavy on your shoulders. No wonder we feel it all the time!
In a nutshell, I chose to become who I want to be; healthy, happy and full of love for all the things I have in my life. There is no way I could ever become that person by obeying the commands of my illnesses.
I used to cry every single day, for hours. Weeks and weeks went by where I never remembered what I did. All of my being was devoted to a monster that was hell bent on destroying my life, until there was simply nothing left to be. So many urges to end this horror story occurred, because I could barely breathe through the torture rushing through my head. It filled me with a numbing sensation that compelled me to the ground. For a few seconds there was no noise. No vision. No breathing. Then out of the silence came a harrowing cry that hit the ceiling and crashed down above me.
Sure, there are still those days where I contemplate whether I should carry on, but they are far less frequent, and far less powerful than I have become.
For once in my entire life, I can actually say I am truly proud of myself. No easy task, I grant you. This has taken lots of persistence, challenging and determination to discover my new found love for life. Although, every last moment was worth it. Even the simplest of tasks blow me over to think I did them, for under a year ago I would not have contemplated the thought, never mind acting it out. Self-acceptance came first for me. You must acknowledge who YOU are, faults and all! As you will always be looking for someone else to be. There are values in you that are unique to each one of us. The way we think, look, act and speak are all different. That makes you one very special person. For me, I had to accept, that I am both good and bad. After all perfection is not reality. I crave acceptance by others in society, but this does not allow me to open up my inner desires because that would mean going against what others value more. Religious or not, we are all here for a reason, and that is what I must strive for.
Next came the positive self-talk. Quotes, mantras, others experiences, love from family and support all contributed to my foundations of positive thought processes. Though I didn’t believe in them, I said them aloud, wrote them down, repeated them in my head daily to keep those thoughts alive and active against Ana.
Then the tough part. We can all talk the talk…but can we all walk the walk? This stage hits you hard. REAL hard. Self-care and self-respect went hand in hand through each day. Meal times, I made myself eat. When I was told to relax, I rested my aching bones. Negative thoughts, were counteracted with positive responses. Slip ups happened (naturally) but slowly I grew strong enough to keep going without the fall backs. Trust the wisdom that so many inspirational people have spoke and lived by, producing such unimaginable accomplishments. There is no harm in loving yourself.
It was though all of this I can write this after eating my dinner alone (something Ana would never allow) with no regrets, no fear, no guilt, just pride that I am coping with normal life again.
They say to not look back, but I think it is important that you do reflect on your past, because it shapes who you are. You should not live with the past, but make yourself better from it. So I have made the huge leap to look back on the photographs my Mum and myself took over the course of my downfall. A gamble with my mental stability, that had to be made for me to visually see the reality that was masked from me for all those years.
Those images are too soul-destroying for me to publish. I am so ashamed of myself for being so deluded. How could I have not seen the emaciated figure? The brittle hair? The colourless skin? My eyes were glazed over. Staring into those eyes was like staring into a black hole. It has shaken me up to what I had ignored in order to keep Ana so active. I shed tears seeing them, because of both sadness and horror at the shell of a person I become. These photographs will now be used to aid me forward along my road. Never again. Just never again.
If you had told me this time last year, to this very day, “Sarah, you will get through these next few months in hospital, come out and face your sister go down a similar path and still make it out of the tunnel all on your own with no professional eating disorder team” I would have thought you absolutely crazy. Yet here I am. Astonishing what a year makes?
2014 is the year I discovered what I am made of, what I dream to be, how much more alive I can be by becoming my own saviour.
The question I leave you with is, what will I be doing this time next year?