Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anorexia/eating disorders.
Anorexia. It's a brutal world and it holds a lot of force. Families and friends will all feel its power, just like sufferers and survivors do. The families feel it hard because they remember the fights, the tears and the hours at the dinner table screaming. The sufferer feels it because it is their enemy, their friend and their lifeline - but also their killer. Friends feel it because they lost their friend for a moment.
Anorexia doesn’t only affect one person, it affects every single person in the community which surrounds the fighter who has the terrible illness. I am in recovery from anorexia, and so is my family. I still see my friends' eyes skimming my body and their hesitant comments about my appearance. I see my sister's fleeting concern when I stop eating mid-meal to have a drink. I feel the weight of my disorder when I mention something that is really very normal, yet it holds weight because it could be disordered. Then I remember that together we are still learning, learning how to not see me as ill anymore.
The other day mum ordered pizzas for dinner. I didn’t argue or try to protest, I could feel them watching, judging my reaction, and I could see that they could see my emotions on my face - I don’t have a good poker face. When I smiled and said, “Yum, With garlic bread?” I could see their relief in their eyes. It was then that I realised my ED is still with me and I still feel it but it no longer dictates what I do or say. I am, for the most part, free. I also realised right then that I hadn’t gotten mad, shouted or cried during dinner for a long time. It dawned on me that I will probably never get mad or cry over a silly meal ever again.
Sometimes, I grieve my eating disorder, but that part, I will never, ever miss.
That night I went to a party with my school friends, and my friends and I were going to walk back to my house, a cute little forest walk, there was a full moon and the stars were out, it would have been gorgeous. But we were tired, it was 3 am and we just wanted chips and chai lattes, so we didn’t walk home. Instead, we crashed on the ground of the host's house, lying under blankets, eating chips and drinking chai lattes. And it was divine.
There are times I miss certain parts of my eating disorder, but not as much as I missed my friends and making normal teenage memories. I am building myself up from the ground, re-inventing a girl who I used to wish for. I am creating a person who I am in love with from the dust of the girl who dissolved.
- Jess B
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