There are lots of blogs and vlogs that focus on the struggles and recovery of anorexia. It still appears that in the media and common culture, these are wrongly assumed to be the only two stages of the illness, or at least the only two stages worth broadcasting.
But what about all of the in-between time? When you’re not quite recovered, but also no longer in the most intense throes of the illness?
I think the reason that there is such a lack of discussion surrounding living with anorexia is because, quite simply, this is a notion that scares people. I get it; nobody wants to accept the possibility that this invisible assassin might be a part of their lives for... Well, forever, really.
And I’m not trying to be negative by saying this, but for most anorexia warriors, the battle will last a lifetime, to varying extents.
Even when one is considered ‘recovered,’ there are still daily challenges to overcome, and imbedded habits to contend with. These traits can take years to defy and train out of oneself.
And remember, as is the case with all mental illnesses, just because the impediments are not aesthetically visible to the outside world, it doesn’t mean they aren’t happening beneath the surface. (For example, if I’m offered a chocolate at work, I may appear to just accept and eat it without a care in the world, but you can guarantee that a war has broken out inside my head.) A cliché it might be, but you truly never know what people are dealing with behind their facades.
I live with anorexia. Since my relapse in October 2019, I have lived alongside anorexia every single day. Don’t get me wrong – that’s not to say that I’m not blessed with a very happy life, because I am. But as morbid as it may sound, anorexia has become part of my ‘norm.’
And you know what? It’s okay. Obviously, it’s far from ideal, but anorexia doesn’t restrict me as much as it used to. In fact, as I have blogged about before, sometimes anorexia actually brings out the best in me.
My quest to rebel against my anorexia has made me a much stronger, braver and more determined individual. Some of the loves of my life – in particular solo travel and running – have been born from the person my battle has made me, and I wouldn’t change that.
Overall, I have been ‘acquainted with’ anorexia for eight and a half years now. I can handle it. I can live with it.
The truth is, actually, I don’t think I could live without it. Not yet, anyway.
I’m just not ready to let go of that control.
I always say that I vow to be as honest as possible when it comes to anorexia.
I’m not going to sit here and post endless blogs about my victories, because unfortunately, that is a huge inaccuracy.
I’m always proud when I stand up to The Voice and achieve something, such as with my running. And while the good days grow in frequency the more I learn to manipulate this illness, I can’t deny the fact that there are bad days. Anybody who has ever dealt with anorexia will know this, and will confirm that there is no set pattern or warning sign when it comes to these random downfalls.
I want people to know what it’s really like to live with anorexia; how it has the power to dominate your every move, alter your mood, and infect your personality on a day-to-day basis.
Right now, I want to put on weight. While I still weigh more than I did last year, I know in myself that I currently look ‘too skinny.’
I mean, I was never Katie Price, but I want my ‘curves’ back. 🤣
One of the things I hate the most about anorexia is its cruel ability to alter your appearance. Not content with ruining your life from the inside, it starts to snake its way into your exterior, stripping away great chunks of you. You start to look like anorexia, and I despise that. With anorexia polluting your veins, your mind, and the surface of your skin, you begin to lose your identity.
I miss my chubby cheeks and baby face. I haven’t really recognised myself for a while now, and that makes me sad.
Recently, I caught that vile sickness bug that literally every single person in the world seems to have at the moment. I didn’t eat for three days and as a result of this, I lost a couple of pounds. My weight plummeted again, which both horrified and thrilled me.
It’s twisted, but the lower the number on the scale, the more in control I feel, and yet I know that this is the biggest and most dangerous misconception... EVER!
I’m 29 years old, and I’ve just bought age 12 pyjamas from M&S, for God’s sake! I have always been and probably will always be naturally petite, but it would be nice to be a size six again. I’m pretty limited when it comes to clothes – if a shop doesn’t stock size 4, it’s a no-go for me, unless they have a kid’s section. Shein are the best, because they do the ‘mini me’ range, so I can browse the women’s section, see something I like, then just buy the kid’s version instead (usually for half the price!). What a life...! 🤦🏻♀️
I want to put on weight, and I know that I urgently need to put on weight, but I’m scared.
Last Autumn, I damaged my knee while doing the virtual London Marathon. I was signed off running for weeks while I underwent physio, and during this time, I worked on healing my entire body after months of harsh restricting and needless discipline. I promised myself that I would eat whatever I wanted over Christmas, which is usually the most anxiety-inducing time of the year for me in terms of my anorexia. Between October and January, I gained those extra four pounds... And I was delighted. My reaction surprised me. Usually, a loosening of the controls and weight gain would be enough to make me spiral into despair, and yet, I felt amazing.
The fact that I have been able to retain those four extra pounds all year is a HUGE triumph for me.
I have a target weight in mind for the New Year, and I’m determined to get there. I know my anorexia will put up a fight, and I know it’s going to be mentally gruelling, but I’m actually excited at the prospect of seeing my body blossom again.
I’ve promised myself that if I gain and retain my goal weight, I will book another boudoir shoot to celebrate.
Running continues to teach me so much about my body, and I owe it so much.
Without running, I think I would have freaked and tried to shed those four extra pounds as soon as I learned of their existence. Running reminds me that I need to properly fuel and look after my body if I expect it to deliver the results I want.
I’m getting there, one step at a time, and I feel ready to take on my next challenge: four more pounds gained by January. Watch this space!
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©
✨Read my book 'Running For My Life: An Anorexia Memoir & Self-Help Guide' HERE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0B35FHK97/ref=dbs_a_def_awm_bibl_vppi_i2