journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

2 Years of Recovery!

On the 1st of September 2014, I sat in the doctor’s office after fainting in college and listened as he finally diagnosed me – Anorexia Nervosa. For weeks before this diagnosis I had been pulled from college because I was too exhausted and too ill to attend. I had spent most of college lunch times sitting in the classroom with a tutor or the head of care’s office because I couldn’t be trusted to eat by myself. They watched me for over half an hour to ensure I had consumed every bite of that banana, sandwich or pear. I had panic attacks that lasted for hours and spent most of the days in the college bathroom because the anxiety was too much to bear. I had to have every single meal prepared for me but still managed to consume so little and exercise behind every body’s backs. My first visits to the doctors proved unsuccessful – my BMI was not low enough to reach a diagnosis of Anorexia…despite losing 31% of my body weight (a diagnosis usually occurs after the person loses 15% of body weight). But finally on the 1st of September 2014, after being told to ‘lose a few more pounds’ my BMI slipped into the underweight category and I went in for the fight of my life…

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Although September 2014 was 2 years ago, it feels like yesterday. I remember every single emotion, every illness, every fear, every tear, every screaming fit, every panic attack. I remember the heart-wrenching pain, the weakness in my body, the exhaustion as panic attacks swept through me. I remember crying in fits of tears because I had to force food down me. I remember getting so angry because I thought even water had calories. Not having every food measured and calorie counted caused me to spiral out of control. Not being allowed to exercise drove me to crying and screaming on the floor. Every morning I woke up I was ready to lay down and die. A life without Anorexia, without control, without everything I’d worked for for over a year seemed absolutely terrifying to me. I was disappearing to everyone around me but I still felt as though I was fat…

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Anorexia Nervosa is currently the most lethal psychiatric disorder, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death. Suicide is also a particular risk as 1 in 5 Anorexia deaths are due to suicide. People diagnosed with Anorexia between the ages of 20 to 29 had a higher death rate (18-fold) with the age group 15-19 following close behind with a ten fold.

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by a low weight, fear of gaining weight, a strong desire to be thin, and food restriction. The associated malnutrition from Anorexia can cause complications in every single organ system of the body. Hypokalaemia (a drop in potassium levels in the blood) is common in Anorexia and causes abnormal heart rhythms, constipation, fatigue, muscle damage and paralysis. The symptoms of Anorexia include: refusal to maintain a healthy weight, Amenorrhea (period stops, hair becomes brittle, skin turns yellow), fear of weight gain and avoidance of weight gain, a rapid and obvious weight loss of at least 15% of body weight, obsession with calories and fat contents of food, preoccupation with food, food restriction, food rituals such as cutting food into small pieces, using laxatives, water pills and diet pills to lose or maintain a weight loss, excessive exercise and micro-exercising (moving the fingers or legs persistently), distorted body perception, intolerance to cold and a lower body temperature, hypo tension, tachycardia, depression, isolating behaviour; becoming withdrawn and secretive, abdominal distention, bad breath caused by starvation-induced ketosis, chronic fatigue and rapid mood swings.

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There has been many relapses in my recovery and every day is a constant battle with food…My eating disorder journey has shaped me into the person I am today. It has made me more empathetic, more compassionate, more open and aware. It has made me an advocate for others suffering with mental illness. It has made me strong. I have met so many amazing people through my journey…and lost many on the way…

Anorexia Nervosa, as well as any other eating disorder, is absolutely horrendous and is life-threatening. Anorexia nearly killed me, but each day I wake up I am thankful I experienced it…

Not because it made me thin. Not because it made me feel in control.

But because it opened my eyes to the world and made me an advocate for change. Because it allowed me to grow as a person and lead me to a road of self-discovery.

Because it shaped me into the person I am today.

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