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I am an eating disorder survivor by Hope Virgo

3rd January 2017

I have never found it easy to share my story about my Anorexia. I struggle with people knowing too much about me, and am always afraid of judgement. Afraid it will hold me back in my career and afraid of people watching my every move.

I had a best friend when I was younger, Anorexia, I felt like she knew me, she cared about me and she wanted to be a part of me. She taught me everything I needed to know. She valued me, she appreciated me and she made me feel good about myself. But in reality she didn’t. In reality she was a manipulative bitch. She ran me in to the ground. She pushed people away from me, beat me up when I was down. Trapped me in a vicious cycle up until my heart nearly stopped and I was admitted to a mental health hospital where I lived for a year.

In November 2017 after months of CAMHs, years of hiding my Anorexia from anyone I was admitted in to a mental health hospital where I lived. I had to re-teach myself the importance of eating, how to exercise healthily and reasons why I wanted to get well. It was hard realising I had a problem as I never thought I had. For so long I had been unsure as to why people were making an issue of it. I was scared they just wanted to make me fat and that they were actually jealous that I could diet so well. It was one of the hardest years of my life but it was well worth it.

After a year in hospital, being taught how to eat, how to exercise in a healthy way I was not sure whether I was well enough for discharge. But I knew one thing. I knew that I never ever wanted to step foot inside of a mental health hospital and be made to eat again. That stubbornness of mine has helped to keep me well. That and pushing my boundaries day in and day out. Yes, food still panics me at time. Yes, I sometimes want to do an extra-long run but I know it is not worth it.

What I wanted people to realise that just because you can’t see there is something physically wrong with someone, it doesn’t mean that they are fine. Mental health is scarily secret. And when you have a mental health problem you have no idea when it will pounce. It could be hiding for years and years, you defeating it and then suddenly… out of nowhere… it creeps up. Slowly. Pulling you down. Pulling you closer to you. Eating you from the inside out. At first it’s easy to ignore, easy to shut up and easy to forget. But as it beats you, further and further down, the mask gets harder to cover it. There are days when you can’t laugh, days when you don’t feel like getting up and then days when you just want to give up fighting. But don’t!

Don’t let her suck you back in. She has tried to do it to me countless times but life without her is so much better. Life without anorexia is the way forward and trust me you do not want to go back to her. Her false promises, her false affirmations. She may seem like your best friend but she isn’t.

The fight isn’t always easy but it is well worth it.

Hope Virgo has written a book about her life with Anorexia: 'Whilst your anorexia seems like your best friend, she knows everything about you and is always there, she is also your worst enemy and not someone you want to know'.

We follow Hope's devastating struggle with anorexia. For four years, she managed to keep it hidden, keeping dark secrets from friends and family. But then, on 17th November 2007, Hope's world changed forever. She was admitted to a mental health hospital. Her heart nearly stopped and her skin was yellowing. She was barely recognisable. Forced to leave her family and friends, the hospital became her home. Over the next year, at her lowest ebb, Hope faced the biggest challenge of her life. She had to find the courage to beat her anorexia.

In Stand Tall Little Girl, Hope shares her harrowing, yet truly inspiring, journey. Through her letters and diary entries, Hope tells us how she fought from rock bottom to beat the friend that had controlled and nearly destroyed her life. The story of Hope's recovery will inspire countless others.”

This can be pre-ordered on Amazon:

Hope Virgo