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Ana and Me

27th May 2014

It took a long time for Ana and I to get close. It certainly wasn't love at first sight. In fact until recently I wasn't really sure whether or not she actually existed. Let me just clarify who Ana is. Ana is the voice inside my head that keeps me trapped in the dark abyss that is anorexia. I remember being in therapy a few years ago when I wasn't as entrenched in my illness as I am now and therapists making reference to 'the anorexic voice' I thought this is crazy, I don't have voices in my head, what are they talking about?' At that point there really was no clear voice in my head but Ana was waiting in the wings so that she could find the right time to make her move. Anorexia just crept up on me. For years I managed the illness. I got my degree and the career I had always dreamed of but sadly I perceived my ability to manage the illness as being a big fat lump of a failure at it. I would attend outpatient appointments and see the emaciated inpatients and think 'Christ why can I not get as thin as that?, I shouldn't be here I'm too big, what a fraud I am' Being asked by the reception staff whether I was there for an interview just added to the humiliation. People can be so thoughtless and it doesn't take much to put a huge dent in the fragile ego of an anoretic. This made me want to run away from there and like Forrest Gump not stop running until I fulfilled the criteria where they would take me seriously.

One of the biggest misconceptions about anorexia is that it is all about weight. When I hear people saying 'well he/she doesn't look anorexic' it makes me want to unleash my verbal assassin. Anybody who aspires to look iller than somebody who is clearly on death's door is on their way down a dangerous path and will end up playing Russian roulette with their health. If somebody burst into your home and said 'right I'm taking everything' you would guard your property with all your might, that is human nature. So why I let Ana in and rob me of pretty much everything I had is beyond me, I guess I didn't see it coming till it was too late. This is not to say that all is lost, on the contrary I have a wonderful long suffering partner and support from many other areas but I lost my career and with that my self respect. It's that that hurts the most.

Once you let Ana into your life she is a bitch to get rid of, men would describe her as 'the typical nagging wife never leaves you alone for a second' This is true she will do your nut in, constantly telling you that you aren't good enough because you aren't thin enough. Since when did looking like Gollum from Lord of the Rings become à la mode? Well I suppose if you look at some of the models on international catwalks you might see some similarities. All of the skeletal celebrities posting instagrams of their protruding bones (which have probably been airbrushed within an inch of their lives) certainly don't help. What an appearance obsessed, self obsessed society we have become. I know that I fall into both of these categories, it goes with the turf but I am trying my best to change. Self awareness is a bitter pill to swallow at times but that's therapy for you and if you have an eating disorder boy do you need it.

I find myself at a crucial point in my life now, I am no spring chicken anymore. Sink or swim I guess. I either give in to this illness and carry on losing weight so that I can get that momentary feeling of elation when I step on the scales or I choose to get well. I am actually running out of options as I write this as inpatient treatment is being pushed down my throat like the big sandwich I could do with to keep me out. I value my freedom, I am a very determined person (I was once told that my drive will destroy me so hopefully I am going to prove that theory wrong) therefore the thought of relinquishing control of my life terrifies me. If you are reading this hopefully you will be inspired to turn your life around. I honestly never thought that anorexia would get me like this. I totally underestimated the game I was playing because there is only one winner and it sure as hell ain't you. Anorexia strips not only the flesh from your body but it gnaws at your soul and it terrorizes your mind. You can say goodbye to your self confidence and your social life. There is so much ignorance about this illness that people just don't get you. They say 'why don't you just eat?' oh and skinny bashing by the way is totally acceptable whereas not many people would feel that it is ok to go and tell someone that they are overweight.

So as I am making the daily torturous steps towards recovery if you find yourself in a similar situation, I invite you to take a punt and come with me. After all what have we got left to lose?