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Battling Anorexia

Hope is an author and mental health campaigner and also recently became a Research Champion for NCMH.

Well done. You are doing so well surviving on nothing.

The praise and admiration spread through me. I longed for it to continue and I was learning how to keep it going. I was learning how to feel okay again whilst dampening any other sorts of emotion. I had struggled with feelings of guilt and sadness for so long.

girl looking out to sea

But from the day I met Anorexia, I discovered this amazing sense of relief. When Anorexia started telling me what to do, guiding me. She gave me a sense of purpose I hadn’t had from anything else. She valued me whilst at the same time helping me to switch off from the real world. The world that I struggled to be part of.

Miss that snack.

Our friendship grew and grew. The satisfaction I got from not eating spread quicker by the day. It possessed me and kept me believing in life. I welcomed the distraction from anorexia when I would lay in bed at night listening to my parents arguing. I enjoyed the wandering thoughts to calories, and exercise. Those thoughts kept me sane at night when I felt completely trapped.

If you skip that meal too you will 100% feel better.

Losing control

Little did I know how close I was to death, Little did I know that this amazing friendship would soon go downhill and I would no longer be able to cope. I don’t know when I lost all control over my eating. Things seemed to be going so swimmingly but in what seemed like overnight I no longer had that control anymore.

I no longer made that anorexic voice happy. I no longer was good enough at having anorexia. And the more I told myself this the more trapped I began to feel. The few months before I was finally admitted to a mental health hospital I was completely lost.

The days were hard. I would get up, sneak off to the gym, go to school for a little bit and then come home to exercise. If I didn’t argue with my parents about dinner I would be made to eat it and then I would have no choice but to eat the meals that they put in front of me. When this happened, I felt that my only resort left was to make myself sick.

I was repulsed at myself for giving in to the meals and so I had to get rid of every single bit of food in my food. I was no longer happy. I was alone, lost and scared.

I was scared that this nagging relentless voice was never going to leave my head. What had been a voice that I loved, a voice that was like a best friend was now something that terrified me.

After I hit rock bottom I was admitted to a mental health hospital where I spent the next year rebuilding myself.

Would I ever have a day when things would feel okay? Would I ever have a day when I wouldn’t feel fat? Would I ever feel okay with food?

These questions haunted me at night leaving me feeling so helpless. Anorexia wasn’t making me happy anymore but neither was eating.

Keep talking

It was a hard journey to recovery but one that I am proud I embarked on. It wasn’t easy and there were times along the way when I wanted to give up but keeping strong and fighting on was what I had to do

The two things that really help me stay well are talking about how I feel.

This one is hard at times, but one that helps so much. There are times when I am tempted to shut myself away from the world and whilst this works for some people for me it doesn’t.

By talking about things it helps me to remove all emotion from food and helps me to let people know I am not okay if I keep eating.

woman doing push up

The second thing is exercise. Something that I always have to monitor too so I don’t do too much but it helps me stay well and offers me a sense of relief from everything going on around me particularly when stuff gets tough.

Anorexia affects an estimated 1.6 million people in the UK, and 1 in 4 people have a mental health problem, but still, research into mental health is massively underfunded.

So much of my recovery has been spent questioning. Why me? Why out of 5 children was I the one who developed anorexia? It sometimes seems unfair but I would never ever wish this anorexic thinking on anyone else.

That relentless nagging voice is beatable but it is essential that the right support is provided.

It is essential that people all over the country have access to support in a timely manner. It is essential that more of funding is there so we can tackle the ever growing problem that mental health faces.

Whilst we wait for those societal changes to be made, we must keep talking about mental health. We must fight to break the stigma and we must educate society on mental health so that everyone feels able to reach out for support when they need.



Hope Virgo

Hope is an author, a mental health campaigner and a Research Champion for NCMH.

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