A life dictated by Anorexia has been complete torture – but there’s no denying that for a time it truly felt as if it was serving a purpose in my life. Over the past 4 years, Anorexia has played a role as both my friend and my enemy and so writing a letter to each was one of the homework’s assigned by my therapist during one of our initial sessions.
It was definitely an emotive task, but helped to highlight that there are way more negatives to living with Anorexia than there are positives – and so I wanted to share it on my blog too.
This post is written from my own personal experience and is not intended to replace professional advice. If you are suffering from, in recovery, or think that you have a disordered relationship with food then please visit your GP. You can also find advice and resources on the following websites: Beat, Mind and the NHS.
Dear Anorexia my friend,
Thank you for holding my hand in the darkness when no one else did. For the endless round of applauses, for the sense of satisfaction like no other. Thank you for being there for me, when no one else was – for being my only friend when everyone else abandoned me. Because whilst everyone else left me – you’ve been my only constant, my only friend over the past 4 years.
I turned to you when I had no one and you’ve never left me. You’ve always been there when I needed you. The only one I’ve ever been able to rely on. You’ve been with me through both the good times and the bad. Through it all you’ve always had the answer to every question – to starve and punish, to shrink myself.
Thank you for being the one thing that I’ve ever been good at. Thank you for being my purpose – the only driving force that’s fueled me for the past 4 years. Thank you for providing me with a sense of achievement, when my life was otherwise empty – for filling that dark void. Thank you, but that’s all I need from you now.
Dear Anorexia my enemy,
You stole Yasmin 4 years ago and I think it’s about time that you gave her back.
You’ve stolen my teenage years, my happiness, my physical health and left me a shell of the person that I once was. You have enrobed me and become my identity – if I’m not Anorexic, then what am I?
You’ve taken away crucial years of my life that I will never get the opportunity to relive. But you won’t get another year out of me, not another month, week or day. There’s no place for you anymore. I won’t let you fill my 20s with the same regret that you have my teens. Of course I regret already giving so much of my life to you, but I’m stronger and more resilient because of the torture that you’ve made me endure. Whilst I’ll never be the same person that I was before you took over – I’ll come back stronger than ever before.
You’ve ruined birthdays, Christmases, meals and nights out. My most recent Christmas and Birthday spent starving myself – the day consumed with thoughts of food, exercise and restriction, before going to bed so hungry that I couldn’t sleep. Why did I let you steal another precious day from me again?
What do you actually want from me? Nothing will ever be good enough for you. You’ve provided me with a sense of happiness, but it’s only ever been for a fleeting moment. I’ll never be skinny enough or pretty enough to you. My bones will never stick out enough. Even when I exercise to the point of exhaustion, or have chest pains – you do nothing but encourage me to go on. You won’t be satisfied until I’m dead.
You’ve made me obsess over my body – a sense of self hatred which morphs itself in to weird kind of love. As I pinch every inch of fat on my body and over analyse every aspect. From my fingers, to my hip bones, collarbones, stomach and thighs.
You’ve reduced my world to a point where I care about nothing other than food and exercise. When I should have been asleep, you forced me to compulsively exercise. I should have been doing research projects at uni, but I was researching calories. Days that should have been given to friends and boyfriends, dedicated to exercise and eating – night’s that should have been spent partying, spent alone – planning my next meal or exercise regime.
I thought that losing weight would bring me happiness, but with the loss of weight came loss of life. You’ve taken everything from me and provided me with nothing in return. I don’t even know who I am any more – what I like or what I enjoy. You’re a parasite. Sometimes your constant, at other times you emerge from the darkness when I least expect it.
You’ve made me horrible to live with – irritable, moody, snappy and depressed – the impact on my mum and other family members often forgotten, as I became blinded to anything other than food and exercise.
How can you make someone feel so guilty for doing the one thing that’s necessary to survive? For adequately feeding and nourishing their body. If you go against everything that enables me to live, then would the only way to truly satisfy you be death?
The way that you constantly warp and manipulate yourself is somewhat impressive – things that were once acceptable aren’t anymore. Always looking for a way to twist things, for a new rule or routine to latch on to – of which you’ve created so many and that may life has been dictated by.
You’ve made eating and preparing food a mathematical equation. Weighing and portioning everything to the exact gram, in the fear that a slight deviation would cause my weight to sky rocket. Everything has been pre planned and fitted together like a jigsaw piece – always looking to balance one meal with the next. But you’ve brought no balance to my life, instead you tipped me completely off the edge.
The negative effects that you’ve had on my mental health are undeniable, but you’ve ruined my physical health too – my periods stopped, I’m constantly cold, hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, chest pains, chill blains, low energy and the impact on my bone health too. You’ve dulled the sparkle behind my eyes and made me feel like a zombie.
I look in the mirror and I see how truly disgusting you’ve made me look. You’ve forced me to shrink myself in to a child’s body, when I’m entering my first years of womanhood. I’ve become nothing but a skeleton. Sharp around the edges. It’s not attractive, it’s repulsive. You’ve forced me in to a lifeless shell. I’ve starved myself to fit a certain size, for a sense of momentary happiness – whilst in reality my entire world was still crumbling. You never truly filled the void, you just tricked me in to thinking that you did.
For a time you served a purpose, but you’ve kept a grip of my life for far too long now. I won’t miss the being constantly cold, the loneliness, the extreme hunger, the exhaustion – both physical and mental. I won’t the miss the physical and emotional pain that you’ve caused me. I won’t carry you with me, you’ll simply be a memory of my distant past. But what I will thank you for is for highlighting the undeniable strength and determination that I never knew that I had. I’m more than a number, a weight, a size or a gap between my thighs. Whilst I can’t deny that you provided some comfort during my darkest days, there’s a whole world out there for me now – and I don’t need you by my side to tackle it.