Submitted by Sam
Knowing what I know now from a place of recovery, I have written a letter to my younger self in the hope that it will help others who may be feeling the way I did back then.
During this challenging time, I am writing to tell you that “you will be okay”. I know that it seems impossible right now. That it’s difficult to go through one day, let alone thinking about the future.
Even if you can’t see how recovery will go, remember that you are fighting; that you have decided to start this process, and you are trying your best. This determination will see you through recovery and help you in the darkest days. You didn’t know what to do at the time. You were scared to leave anorexia, but you knew it wasn’t possible to carry on living with ‘her’ any longer.
You made the right choice in trusting the professionals; they knew what was best for you, and you will be so grateful to have persevered with treatment.
When you were struggling, everyone was so worried for you. You and your partner were experiencing so much sadness with only brief moments of happiness. After treatment, you have found your happiness. Now the situation is the complete opposite. You are like everyone else, with a happy life and some moments of sadness.
Anorexia made it impossible to understand who you were and what you wanted in life. You led a life trying to reach ‘perfection’, trying to please everyone else but yourself. You will be pleased to know that things are different now. You will challenge your beliefs, your rules and discover a completely different life. You will find the courage to make difficult decisions, to go against what anorexia has always told you.
You felt lost during the worst times of the illness. Anorexia numbed feelings and rejected your cultural identity. You can see now that what started as a coping mechanism ended up putting your life at risk.
Your cultural heritage was lost as well. You are Italian, and food has always occupied a crucial part of your life until anorexia ruined that relationship.
You managed to change that too. With the help of therapists, doctors and dietitians, you got your love for food back. When you were ill, you stopped having ‘Saturday night pizza’ with your partner. Cooking together wasn’t possible. Slowly you managed to tackle that side, doing food challenges and letting people help you.
You are now back in full flow, cooking away together, enjoying homemade food and meals out too.
You have come a long way, and you should be proud of yourself. I know recovery is complex and not always straightforward. There is no perfect recovery, and it will be normal to struggle. Even when you stop treatment, you will have days in which ‘the anorexia voice’ won’t leave you alone. That’s okay, and the essential element is how you react to it. How you face problems, how you overcome challenges is the real key.
I know you struggle with body dysmorphia, and seeing your body changing is not easy. I won’t lie to you and tell you that you will be 100% happy with how you look by the end of your recovery. That’s unrealistic and not the point of your journey. You will learn more about social media pressure, body stereotypes, and diet culture, realising how it influenced your ideas. You will start to see that your ‘recovered body’ does incredible things for you. This new body will:
- allow you to travel and see your family;
- help you with a house move;
- assist you in a new job;
- give you plenty of energy to look after your partner and your new cat.
And finally, I want to tell you not to believe all the lies anorexia whispers in your ear. I know she tries to convince you that a life without her is scary and without control. You will understand that anorexia is wrong, that recovery from it will give you a real power over your life. You will see that the only obstacle to a whole and happy life was the illness itself.
Keep going, girl. You are so much stronger than your illness. You will see that you don’t need anorexia and that you have endless possibilities in life.
If you are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings, support is available. We are here to listen to any worries that you may have about eating disorders or disordered eating and to provide practical support and guidance towards recovery.