"The dentist said you can't have lollies. You can have chips in your playlunch instead because we're looking after your teeth. They're fattening but that's okay because you're small."
8 year old me was pretty resilient, but I recall that comment. I remember being conscious of my size from that point onward. I knew I wasn't big, but I was now aware big was bad, and small was good. I compared myself to my stick thin friends from then through primary and high school. My anxiety disorder intertwined with it in many ways and I found it difficult to differentiate my control issues from my body dysmorphia. After school ended and I lost what I loved to control most - academics - I began to restrict my food. To anyone who has noticed someone lose a lot of weight over a short period of time, compliments aren't helpful. Neither are harsh comments. To anyone familiar with that feeling of others' eyes on you and being terrifyingly unsure whether it's because you're too thin or too fat, you aren't alone. That grey shadowy mist following you around, causing a 4 o clock brain fog feeling 24/7. It makes you feel like you're watching everyone else live from outside a glass house, and it's the most isolated I've ever felt in my life. It doesn't go away entirely, but it gets easier.
"Your daughter will stop smoking, and your granddaughter will start eating again."
My grandma made a promise to my grandpa on his deathbed. I kissed him goodbye, and I cried for my 6 months straight. So began the guilt fuelled, dark and lonely path to recovery from a part of me I wasn't ready to say goodbye to. But I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Pa, and this was my last chance to do him proud. You're so far into a place like that - be it anorexia, depression, anxiety - a combination of several. Dark thoughts become imminent, and the tunnel vision you're relying on makes it a slow crawl out of the hell that you've got yourself into. It's horrifying. And it's soul destroying, but I promise the crawl is worth it. There will be setbacks, and there will be relapses where you wonder if any of its worth it anymore. Why live like this? Because the best of your life is still to come, and it's worth pushing through this seemingly never-ending black hole to find out what constitutes the rest of your beautiful life. You'll thank yourself, and your family and all those who helped you do so. You'll lose people, and you'll meet people. But you aren't alone.
Anyone suffering with an eating disorder, and associated or underlying anxiety or depression: the butterfly foundation is a wonderful support system and I truly believe I wouldn't be here without them.
The Butterfly Foundation are an amazing organization that support people affected by eating disorders.
The Author of this piece wanted to remain anonymous.