This one has left me at a loss for words. I think it’s the fact that’s there’s something both brave yet also vulnerable about the way Eloise writes.
I admire her so much for being open about living with an eating disorder, in spite of the almost palpable discomfort from revisiting some the memories.
• I am 33 years old, originally from Devon but have lived in London since I was 18
• Recently a Single Mother.
• I’ve had A LOT of jobs, including fitness instructor, waitress, actress, key worker and stripper.
• Currently a stay at home mum and wannabe sustainable lifestyle blogger.
How it started:
• From as early as I can remember I have always thought I was fat. I have always been self-conscious of my body and compared it to others.
• I was brought up on a Macrobiotic diet and always very conscious of the food I was and was not allowed to eat.
• I saw different foods as good and bad.
• Age 15 I experimented with starving myself and age 17 I first made myself sick.
• It felt fantastic and I thought all my problems had been solved.
• By age 18 I didn’t go a week without making myself sick
• By age 24 I was completely out of control. I couldn’t have food in my house, I was sick after every “bad” food I thought I’d had and would immediately binge on anything that was in the house.
• Age 25 I was sick after almost everything I ate including “good” food, and I was addicted to exercise.
• Commonly, eating disorders are known as a form of control, and I guess they are, and they ultimately have NOTHING to do with wanting to lose weight. Having an eating disorder is not being on a restricted diet, it is a mental illness.
• Like any addiction it starts slow and before you know it you have been taken over by it and have no idea how to escape its hold.
• It starts of as a fun friend who makes you feel good, then ends with the bully who is controlling your life.
• I was aware of EVERYTHING I put in my body. At university I would go out and get drunk, eat a kebab on the way home, throw it up and think I was in control of my life.
• Everyday soon becomes ruled by what you’ve eaten, or what you haven’t eaten, what you feel guilty about and constantly re-setting the number of days you’ve gone without being sick to zero.
• To control my Bulimia, I resorted to starving myself. If I had to be sick most of the time, then I just wouldn’t eat. That would solve the problem, surely.
• This led to uncontrollable binges, eating entire boxes of my flatmates cereal and entire loaves of bread and waking up early in the morning to go out and replace them before they woke up and would start asking questions.
• When I thought my Mum heard me once when I first started, I began being sick into plastic bags in my bedroom and putting them in my school bag to dispose of the next day.
• You will do ANYTHING to hide your disorder.
• Bulimia easily goes undetected as you don’t get REALLY skinny, you lose weight sometimes, but you do get a puffy face and there is no major difference.
• When I started controlling it by not eating, that’s when people noticed.
• My breaking point was having irregular heartbeats, having the doctors try and break into my house and check if I was still alive after a blood test that day, and being unable to have NOTHING, NO FOOD in my flat at all, even frozen food. I couldn’t hold down a job and left several jobs half way through the day to make myself sick and I would never go back. I was in a mental prison.
• Restricting and being fussy over particular types of food that you haven’t been before.
• Large quantities of food going missing in a short period of time.
• Seeing someone eat a lot, a lot of the time and not put on any weight.
• Going to the bathroom after a meal.
• Looking flustered when coming back from the bathroom.
• I ended up having cuts on my knuckles of my index finger where my teeth would rub against my skin when I was desperate to be sick. Day after day it starts to bleed and hurt but you keep on going. Look for cuts on the knuckles.
• Running the tap every time you go to the toilet.
• Hiding out in your room.
• Seeming panicked and far out when in a social situation with food.
• Unpredictable behaviour.
• Being obsessed with talking and being around food.
• (NB: These are the symptoms that I had, other people would have experienced different, but I am speaking from my experience).
• In the end I had to reach out to people and tell them my problem, I couldn’t do it anymore.
• I looked online at www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk and tried out some of their self-help exercises.
• I googled eating disorder therapists in North London and took myself to see a lady in Muswell Hill.
• I fucked that up, it all got too much and made the excuse that I didn’t have enough money to go…she offered me the sessions for free!
• I got myself a doctor’s appointment and after my blood test results soon got fast tracked to St Anne’s Eating Disorder hospital in North London.
• At the hospital I was an outpatient and attended counselling and I got prescribed Prozac.
• After a good few months of counselling and being on the highest dose of medication, I gradually stopped being sick.
• I wanted to recover.
• I wanted to break free from this awful disease.
• After a year or so I noticed I had gone a long time without feeling the need to be sick.
A couple of years after that, I realised I was relatively “normal” around food. I could leave food on my plate when I was full and even enjoy doing a weekly shop without eating it all in one go! I’m not sure if I will ever be at the point of accepting my body and loving it.
Whenever I see a picture of my body looking good, I tell myself it was just a good camera angle, or I wish my body was actually like that. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do think I look bloody great, but there will always be something I pick at.
After recent stressful events in my life I feel like this disorder is something I will always live with.
I might always resort to controlling my food when my life seems out of control.
But one thing I do know is that I will NEVER EVER go down that slippery, dark road again. I can recognise my destructive thoughts, notice when I am being over the top and reign it in. The last thing I ever want to do is pass on any abnormal behaviours around food to my child.
I feed him a healthy diet and I don’t want anything to be out of bounds to him (except meat and dairy -ha ha!)
Well that’s under my roof, when he is out and about I have no control and I am OK with that.
I can relate in so many ways to your post Eloise. I have struggled with anorexia for 12 years now. I will be getting discharged from therapy following my recent relapse and this time I am so adamant that I am never going back to that slippery slope of not eating again. These illnesses just take grip and before you know it controls everythings. I’m so proud of your honesty about how you have dealt with your bulimia and speaking about it xxx
This was so moving to read such an honest and searingly painful account. It was like reading a diary. I have had bulimia from as young as 9 or 10 with it at its peak in my early 20s going from 16 stone down to 8. My teeth have suffered as a result with most crowned or filled at the age of 30. I find stressful situations a trigger. When my marriage was under strain it flared up again as I was so depressed and I opened up to the doctor for the first time and was given anti depressants and counselling which helped. It will always be something I have to manage but i now know my triggers and how to control it.
One thing you said about someone suffering from bulimia not being thin struck a cord as that’s how it has been for me. Too afraid to ask for help as I thought no one would believe me because I wasn’t skinny as a result of what I was doing.
Thank you for your honesty and showing there is life after it and for explaining that it truely is a mental illness. Xxx