What exactly happens when life doesn't go to plan? Does it all happen again? Like a tidal wave, ready to put your life on pause again until you are ready to press play...I sort of worried that would always be the case. That my life 'post anorexia' (I place this in inverted comers because I'm not entirely sure what post anorexia means), would have to be a series of very fortunate events, running on a smooth trajectory of positivity and every now and again stopping to lie in a bed of roses until another glittery unicorn popped up to ride me along my yellow brick road. If the unicorn didn't show up, then, well, I'd be pretty screwed and would most likely end up back in a World of starvation, blood tests, mania and obsession...I think this is the opinion of many people. That anorexia is a life sentence. That us fragile soles will constantly be teetering on the edge of death, toying with the notion of dancing with our old friend once again.
It's odd to consider myself even writing this post now, for one thing, I never really thought I'd get to a place when I would be able to say anorexia no longer rules my life, let alone be able to honestly say that I know, now, that I have grown into a woman who is stronger than the disorder that once controlled me as it's puppet. This is not me saying I am totally healed. I still have ticks and struggles that aren't typically 'healthy', my brain often has to be put into place because, it will, at points, still scream abuse. I am still really quite terrified of pasta. (Don't ask, couldn't tell you, that ones just stuck), but, I'm still here. Recently life has thrown a few curve balls my way. Personal and familial issues have been quite tough and I have, at points, felt a little like every aspect of my life was a bit of a mess. Nothing was going to plan. I did consider protesting against the unfairness of circumstance through hunger strike, yes, I admit it, but I countered that thought. In fact, I've tried to slap it in the face. After receiving some particularly bad news, I called 2 bloody great friends, got them to meet me for dinner. I didn't say what had happened, I wasn't ready to talk about it, but I knew that I had to have people around me and I also had to eat. When presented with the menu and realising my usual salad had been taken off, I quietly decided to order a pizza. This would be mundo first pizza in about 5 years. When the waitress came round, the pizza was requested and the shock of my dinner companions made the entire thing worth while. I was anxious. I didn't manage it all, but luckily, I was with human hoovers, who are always willing to help out. When I told Phebe, lying at the end of her bed, she was just as happy as I was. When I told Jonah and Thea, both expressed their upmost pride. (Jonah being Jonah also wanted to know exactly what kind of pizza I'd had and where from...typical). I've found other ways to try and cope, I keep those I love close to me on the harder days, I don't talk about it (always), but just knowing that I have friends like I do helps. I'm not writing all of this because I want a medal for eating pizza. I'm writing all of this because for a long time I thought this was it. That id always be the anorexic one. I think if I asked my closest friends what they thought in all honesty, they'd agree. Even those treating me thought that I was kind of stuck. That id forever be freezing, starved and unhappy. But I'm not. Life is not perfect right now, but I still laugh a lot. I still dance around the kitchen with Phebe, I still call my friends for catch ups, I still build my strength and take pride in my abilities. I still avoid scales, but that's okay. I know my limits. I still completed a spartan challenge with my best friend Hollie and raised over £1000 for the unit that saved my life more than once. So why am I telling you all of this? I'm telling you because I want people to know there is always hope. I built a life far bigger than anorexia and I've learned that a life so big comes with both beauty and disaster, but just because you once could not quite cope with aspects of life, does not mean you will always resort to building a cage of bones to keep the bad days out. If anorexia were that sensical, I wouldn't have got unwell in the first place. At the point of diagnosis, my life was better than it had been for a long time. From the outside, it looked pretty great. I had been accepted to uni, I was travelling, I was in the 'popular' group at school, I had a wonderful boyfriend. Yes, there were issues in my life which I don't wish to discuss, but these issues had been present since I was young. Anorexia did not strike for me when everything was falling apart. Anorexia shattered everything that was good. I lost a lot to my illness, but I also gained a lot. I don't know whether one out balances the other, because that which I lost will forever leave a hole in my heart, but I do know that however long you have been unwell, however bad it has got, don't give up. Continue to seek beauty in your life. Find what you love and chase it. Find who you love and keep them close. Find men who make you feel special or who just ignite something inside you and friends who make you want to sit down and eat with them, as well as lie at the end of their beds and laugh about the ridiculous situations in which you find yourself. I have found my strength, my passions, my desires and my 'tribe'. They are dotted all over the world and I don't speak to them all nearly enough, but they are my biggest strength and without them I'd be lost. These friends, both old and new, keep me sane by doing life with me. I don't know whether I'm totally there yet, but I do know anorexia doesn't have to be a life sentence. Build a life that is greater than your disorder and it will have a hard time competing, even when life is all going a little bit to shit.