I’ve been struggling with anorexia and bulimia for 9 years now. I’m 23 years old. I learnt how to make myself vomit from watching a soap on tv called “Home and Away.” I was 14.
I have been at war with my body since I was 11. I was sexually abused by my former step-father at that age and it went on for 2 years. Before that I was physically and emotionally abused by my father until I was 10. I have forgiven my father for the abuse even though he still denies it ever happened. The abuse, especially the sexual abuse made my very self-conscious and I absolutely hated myself.
My mother was emotionally abusive and made me responsible for my younger brother for the first 3 years of his life. We found out when he was 2 that he had Autism. So the constant stress made me turn to food as a means of control in my very out of control life. I was never fat and was very attractive to boys at my school. But for some reason I felt fat. That was my excuse to lose weight. So I starved, binged and purged my way to self-control and a sense of achievement.
I started cutting myself not long after I turned 14. My mum totally flipped when she saw the marks on my arms. But that didn’t deter me. I just found ways to hide the marks. The cutting got worse during my bouts of anorexia and bulimia. I did it to calm myself, to punish myself, to feel pain and to feel like I still existed. Like the eating disorder, I became addicted and did it on a daily basis.
My mum constantly threatened that if I didn’t eat she would take me to the hospital to be tube fed. That never happened. I became more secretive. I would skip breakfast and lunch, that was easy because I got up before my mum and she couldn’t monitor me at school. I would purge dinner in the shower. In 2006 I took my first of many overdoses. It landed me in the ICU on a respirator to help me breathe. Then I went to the psychiatric ward. That was hell. Every 6 months or so I would overdose again. I wanted to die. I hated my life and myself so much that I just wanted a permanent escape.
I relapsed about a month ago. Eating very little and purging whatever I ate. I lost 5kg in 4 weeks. But something snapped in me for the first time. I knew that if I kept doing this I would die. I don’t want to die. I have goals, aspirations for my life. I want to want to go back to university, finish my degree and then start a course in Veterinary Nursing. I want to get married and have children. I want to give something back to the world.
So I told my step mum and my dad that my eating disorder was back. I took the first step and broke the silence. My parents are wonderful. They have been so supportive. They don’t force me to eat and they make dinners that I’m able to handle and not want to purge. I see a psychologist and a psychiatrist on a regular basis and I’m going to see a dietician next week. I have forgotten how to eat normally. I have this horrible fear of gaining weight. But I know that if I take it one day at a time I will get through this.
I hope [my story] will inspire others to realise that even if you’ve had an eating disorder for so long, you can still overcome it and lead a long, happy life.
** ”I created [this picture] a few years ago. It’s called Beyond Broken and at the time it represented a lot to me about how I felt about myself. These days I still feel the same, but I have a new hope that I will be able to glue the pieces back together with the support of professionals, friends and family.”