As the global spotlight shines on eating disorders, one client of AMH everyBODY reveals what life with an eating disorder is really like…
“AMH everyBODY provided a relaxed setting, which made me automatically feel less ashamed- something I had been feeling for a long time. One of the first things that really helped me was that it also helped my family, for the first time, to gain an understanding of how things were affecting me. Through everyBODY’s one-to-one support, and by coming to the Carer Support group, I could see they were starting to have an understanding of how difficult things were for me, that it wasn’t just all about food or weight. It gave them a different perspective and they were able to communicate in a better way with me.
The service has taught me that it’s OK to be different, that uniqueness is a good thing that should be celebrated. Through AMH everyBODY I was able to find my identity again. With an eating disorder you are constantly comparing yourself to others, and not feeling good enough. I was able to discover MY voice. I learnt it was OK to put myself and my needs first. The creative photography course offered during this journey helped me to challenge myself especially in a social environment.
One of the hardest parts of my journey was being able to open up and be honest. It took about a year to admit to myself and my family that there was a problem. The main reason was because of the stigma – the fear of what other people would think, that they would judge me and think it was about being vain, which it wasn’t!
For me, speaking out about my eating disorder led to people understanding. I was surprised by the support from both genders amongst my peers. Male friends were genuinely interested and hadn’t realised that is was about so much more than just food. It really helped letting people know that it was more about what is going on in your head.
Living with an eating disorder took EVERYTHING away from me. It was a very sneaky, secretive thing to live with and it surrounded me with a cloak of shame. It deprived me of my enjoyment of things I used to love and was interested in; the things you enjoyed doing become unthinkable. Your thoughts are taken over by eating disorder thoughts and it’s all consuming: I couldn’t concentrate or think about anything else. I remember feeling numb, trapped – like there was no way out.”
The support from everyBODY has meant EVERYTHING to me. Through the service, I was able to discover who I was again, to be able to be truthful to myself. I’ve been able to start to find beauty in life again, and start to enjoy new things. Recently, I was able to go on a trip, and for the first time, feel a sense of freedom – to not be controlled by my eating disorder. Within my family, we were always close but now we are a lot more open and check in on each other more.
My advice to others would be to remember that recovery is a journey – it can take time and you may have ups and downs but it’s worth it. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to change everything overnight – just take things at your own pace. Try to find what matters to you and don’t be afraid to distance yourself from negative influences.”