This is the 75th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Anonymous took it upon herself to make a conscious move towards getting healthy and part of her recovery was to repair the relationships she affected with her mental disorder. This is her story:
Anonymous is from Canada and she is a traveling writer. She said, “The written word is my passion.” She hopes to have a stable future. She said, “When I am ready to settle down, I suppose that I would run and own a B&B. Though I am a long way from it.” Anonymous was never officially diagnosed, but she has struggled with different forms of mental illnesses, to varying degrees. One of the most prominent was her minor battle with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). She doesn’t know what caused her mental disorders, but she suspects it might be different factors. She said, “I would say that I grew up having significantly low self-esteem. A mixture of bullying and being a natural introvert. I spent the majority of my adolescence believing that I was disliked by everyone. So I stayed silent and turned to terrifyingly unhealthy ways to cope.”
Those who spent time around her noticed unhealthy eating habits, weight loss, and overall behavioral changes. Anonymous developed disturbing symptoms, such as restricting calories-with days of binging and purging, weight loss, moody and irritable, hiding food, lying about what she had eaten, mirror obsession and social isolation. She said, “For the most part I put on a face around people, but I kept interactions to a minimum with others. I started to become a loner.” Anonymous thoughts eventually revolved around eating. She ended up researching on Pro-Ana websites, blogs, videos – tips and support for weight loss and staying strong. She said, “Everything was calculated. Every bit of food and drink was portioned. Pro-Ana helped me find diets, tricks, exercise plans. Even looking at food was distressing. At first it was just fatty foods. Though after a while all food looked disgusting to me.”
She also said:
“How many calories?”; “Just another hour on my bike”; “Skip dinner, wake up thinner”
My life revolved around Ana and weight loss. It was almost like a voice in my head that would remind me of my appearance. It would tell me that everyone saw the little bits of fat on me. That I was a giant. Unworthy of happiness until I succeeded to my goal weight”.
Anonymous started smoking cigarettes more regularly to depress her appetite. She made a list of good foods vs. bad foods. It created an internal dilemma because she would become devastated if she craved something from the bad food List, or worse, caved in. Anonymous wanted to be anorexic, she said, “I wanted to have a disorder, so I forced it upon myself. It became obsession. Nothing else mattered. It was like a secret affair.” She ended up thinking about self-harm and suicide. During her recovery she ended up making small gashes along her wrists because she desperate to find a release of some sort for her anguish.
Her relationships became affected because she stopped being social, even with her best friends. She said, “At work I tried to stay/appear positive, but everyone was noticing my weight loss, eating habits and less positive demeanor. I was short, irritable, and harsh at times.” At the beginning anonymous felt strong and powerful. Like she was superior to the rest of the world by being able to resist, but it was toxifying. Ultimately though she became depressed. Because if this she felt a wide range of feelings, she said, “I felt trapped, disgusting, damaged, ashamed, and pathetic. The only thing that made sense at the time was to make my disorder stronger; to feel powerful within myself.”
A major turning point for anonymous was noticing how her disorder was affecting her overall character. Her usual positive and optimistic outlook on life was slowly diminishing. She sensed that she was on the path to a place she did not want to be. She realized certain thoughts and feelings never really go away so what helps her maintain control is moving in slow motion by taking each thought one at a time, and reminding herself that she is a more beautiful person without Ana. The strategies she uses for self-help is positive self-talk, placing health above appearance, made eating a priority and a hell of a lot of will power. Since anonymous doesn’t do well with lectures, she surrounded herself with helpful people who listened to her.
The biggest lesson she learned was about being kind to herself. She said, “Like for most who have experienced some degree of an eating disorder, it was a form of punishment induced upon myself. Restricting and distorting a basic human need for survival. Death in slow motion.” Now the she is in recovery and has the strength to live positively. She said, “I am a big believer in the universe and have embarked upon a spiritual path. It is what keeps me in the present moment, of course, I do still struggle with times of depression and anxiety. But being free of Ana had allowed me to focus on the root feelings I have. To heal. To be healthy.” She is not sure of anything that will prevent her mental illness from happening again. But now only thing to do she does it to remain conscious when the feelings resurface.
This is her advice for anyone struggling with a eating disorder:
“When you are in it, it can feel like the loneliest place in the world. But the truth is just the very opposite. Everyone else is there hiding just the same. They are just camouflaged by their own monsters.”
She would also like to share this:
“I just remember waking up every morning. Restless sleep. Starved and uncertain. Slowly my bones started to petrude from my skin. Everyday. More and more. Before getting out of bed I would caress my body. Only then could I feel at ease. Intoxicated by my success. I felt great because I looked great. I am now in shock of how far I have come.”
It’s amazing that anonymous had the strength to turn her life around. She is strong and determined to continue her journey of recovery. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place to vent out and recieve advice feel free to become a member of the Mental Illness Recovery Series Group on Facebook.