Hello there, my name is Hannah.
I’d like to open up about something that is a struggle for a lot of people in our society today but mostly women. To you reading this the above picture I look happy and well, however this is not the case.
At the time that photo was taken unknown to me I was severely damaging my body. How? I hear you ask? Well I was an undiagnosed anorexic. I wanted to talk about this to not only share knowledge with people but also for those suffering and don’t know how to start getting help or who to talk to or even just show that it can be fought and beaten as well as reduce the stigma.
A lot of people when they think of anorexia, think young girls going through a fad wanting to be skinny to fit in and look like the magazine models…WRONG. It can attack anyone at anytime and can lie dormant in you brain until some event or word or even a feeling just triggers it off. Anorexia is the highest cause of death in mental health sufferers. It may be the combination of hormonal changes and feelings of stress, anxiety and low self-esteem during puberty that triggers anorexia. I have heaps of recent statistics on these, but I won’t bore you with them.
My story starts way back when I noticed that I have always been tall and skinny, always made fun of for my hair colour and easy go attitude at school. These which I shrugged at and thought had no effect on me however subconsciously they did, and it wasn’t until later in life that they became apparent. It was about the age of 15/16 when I noticed that I didn’t eat as much as my family members and that all my friends were getting more attention and praised by everyone around them male or female, I didn’t take this to heart at the time but as it progressed I began to feel that I didn’t look right nobody would ever love me or like me for me so I had to change something in order to do this. I started eating less by reducing my portion size during school times if I ate at all. Id skip meals at home and if it was nights my parents were on evening work id cook a small meal then cut it up and bin it to look like I ate at least some of it. I survived on light calorie crisps and chocolate to keep energy up. To me I didn’t realize this was a problem till I hit 18 and changed food for partying when I could and became an insomniac due to body telling me I needed to eat but on the other hand I was so exhausted I had no energy unless someone asked if I wanted a night out and always found time and energy for that. I was always classed as underweight at the Dr but was never questioned about eating and just assumed that was who I was. This went on for years. I was in and out of hospitals for different medical conditions that had no explanation but looking back all tie in to being anorexic which we know now after diagnosis. I had even been sectioned into an eating disorder clinic which within 12 hours I had discharged myself and went back to all my old habits.
…Until I fell pregnant.
During my pregnancy I had a few complications which now looking back all tie into my illness. The worst point was when after giving birth I collapsed and wasn’t allowed to hold my child until 6 hours after and seeing every family member holding him before me gave me a horrid feeling. This was my lowest weight at just 4 ½ stone. After arriving home back from hospital, I was determined to not for myself but for my child try to beat this. It took me 6-8 months of fighting with the doctors to get professional help in the form of a dietician and nutritionist as the psychologist was a 2-hour drive away and couldn’t get to them. However, with perseverance and determination I slowly saw a difference in 6 months I gained a stone and within 3 years I almost gained up to 5 stone leaving me to be the heaviest I had been in all the time I can remember from 13 onwards.
Now I can happily say I have reached 6 stone over what I was after given birth ok it has taken me just under 6 years but now I can say I am happier and healthier than I’ve ever felt. (picture on the left shows me at 6 stone, picture on the right shows me at 8) I’m now 10 ½.
I know you’re thinking this isn’t really telling you much of my struggles and so try with it this being that even to this day it’s a different trigger each time as yes, I’ve come so far but it will always be there in my mind and it’s a daily struggle to drown the thoughts and feelings and voices out. I have now got my life back on track and have been accepted to university to study mental health nursing where I hope I can reach out to helping others with eating disorders in the future.
Everyone suffering from this has a different coping mechanism and a different reason and triggers, so I couldn’t really discuss mine as each time was different, however I know a lot of people suffering from this when approached especially in pubs and clubs, dislike others saying to them “oh my goodness you’re so skinny I wish I was like you!”… This, 80% of a time is a trigger to anorexia sufferers as they feel there fat even when people tell them this.
Those reading this thinking oh I have this, but it won’t get that bad and won’t happen to me please try to seek help. I thought the same and I know have a lot of serious medical conditions due to being anorexic for almost 15 years I have destroyed a lot of internal organs, yes they heal but takes a while, there are a lot more deterioration to your health than just weight loss, and no life is worth loosing because of thinking it wont happen to you and people just say it to scare you. I have been there, and I assure you It CAN happen and its honestly not the best feeling to be stuck on medication for the rest of your life.
There is help there for folk who suffer from this or think a loved one is or is close to there’s a lot of charity websites for advice, helplines, doctors and local support groups all which can offer advice, help, confidence to talk about it etc. It is beatable but is hard work, and a struggle you will never ever be fully rid of it but as long as you find a way to get through it and be stronger than the illness or even one step ahead then recovery is possible.