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If at first you don't succeed

In 2011 I was discharged from the community eating disorders team and vowed 'never again.' After several relapses of Anorexia since 1985, I was determined this was the last time. I was educated, had a good understanding of the illness and a supportive network of family and friends. I was sure I had the strength and knowledge to not allow this insidious illness to take hold of me again. But it did....

It chipped away bit by bit, slowly questioning every morsel I ate, getting into my head, punishing me physically and emotionally. Shaming me into submission. I tried to get help but at first no-one was interested. My BMI wasn't low so everything must be OK, right? Wrong!
In 2016 I saw a sympathetic doctor who after looking at my history made a referral to the ED team. This is where my long road to recovery began.

The process was hard. My anorexia was ingrained to the point where I would only allow myself a drink if I'd completed a certain amount of steps on my fitbit. I was an emotional wreck and fading physically.

During my time with the ED team I worked on myself. With a combination of cognitive analytical therapy, compassion focused therapy and EMDR, I began to understand more about how I think, my emotional responses and my triggers.

After two hospital admissions I had started the re-feeding process, which helped my cognition immensely. It wasn't easy and my safe bubble had been popped. Keeping on track was, at times, emotionally draining. Acceptance of my new size does not come easily but with compassion I am learning to like myself a bit more.

With each relapse I have learned something new. I have learned how important peer support is, especially in a hospital setting.
I have learned that I am not responsible for past trauma. I have learned to be honest if I'm struggling, with myself and those around me. I have strategies and tools in place along with a wellness recovery action plan.

So on Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I want to offer hope to those still struggling. There is a life out there not ruled by calories, exercise or scales.

It won't happen overnight, recovery is a process, but it's a process worth fighting for.

I can't say, "never again," but I will say, "Anorexia, I shall be watching out for you and I can beat you."

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