I was a mix of lost, lonely, and hurt when I slipped unknowingly into anorexia at 16. A significant mentor in my life had recently moved away, my parents had recently divorced and started living with other people, and my grandmother was undergoing cancer treatment when the disease first struck. Also, I had suffered a major disappointment in my performance in track and field and my boyfriend was away for the summer. Basically, I decided that the solution to my life was a diet. I thought skinnier would solve all my problems- with my parents, my friends, my boyfriend, my future university scholarship, the list goes on.
My ‘diet’ went horribly and dangerously wrong when I found myself unable to make myself eat anything. I felt lethargic and my heart was very slow. I confessed some of these symptoms to my mom and she contacted the local eating disorders help in our area (Christina Camilleri). After a brief consultation with a paediatrician, I was taken to hospital where my heart (which was indeed, way too slow) and my health could be monitored 24/7.
I was paralyzed with fear. I wasn’t ready for my life to be over yet. I felt guilty for sabotaging the body I was given. I felt guilty for nearly snuffing out my life. I was afraid to sleep in case I wouldn’t wake up again. It was a horrible, stressful time. I knew something was wrong when my mind kept wanting to sabotage me and prevent me from eating, even in my delicate condition. It scared me that even at the edge of life, this ‘thing’ was still so strong that I should not eat- it made no compromises and showed no mercy, and there were no signs of it letting up. I prayed God would step in and take over my life because I couldn’t do it myself.
My recovery felt WAY TOO SLOW. Resuming eating again was scary and painful- physically and mentally. There were days I wanted to be ripped out of my own skin and just exist without my body. I did highschool from the hospital which was hard and stressful- I felt like I was missing what was going on in class, and with my peers. I was worried they were talking about me.
Eventually I was at a ‘healthy’ weight and I hated the expression ‘healthy weight’ because to me it meant ‘fat’. My weight yo-yo-ed slightly for years. I wish I had stuck to a meal plan from my first day of recovery as Christina Camilleri and others had suggested. I still struggle with this area and wish I had done it differently. After getting to my ‘healthy weight’ I became clinically depressed, which has its own challenges and was like wading through a whole other world of gross thoughts and feelings and darkness.
I know the reason I am where I am today, is because of the people who stepped into my recovery and into my life- too many friends to mention here. Christina Camilleri and her team are definitely the reason I’m alive today. She took me from the worst place in my life to a better place and it has been the love and hope and goodness of others who have taken me well past ‘survival.’
All I can tell you [with tears welling up] is the fight is worth it! Don’t quit! This isn’t the end of the story- there are many more chapters! Once you recover, you will have the most lovely experiences- the kinds of things you haven’t let yourself believe are even possible! You will feel things you never dreamed! My life is beyond what I ever pictured it could be. It has been a combination of working hard to recover, taking advice, and being blessed in ways I can only describe as unmerited, gracious, divine (i.e. from heaven). Since my recovery I have been given the most amazing experiences of my life- I have worked for cabinet ministers, ran marathons, I have moved countries, gotten married, become a university lecturer, renovated a house. I am so many things that I wouldn’t have been if my illness continued…
I am a mentor, I am a wife, I will be a mother someday, I have deep friendships, I am part of a community. I have energy for my work and relationships and the people that I love. I have the energy to be someone I always wanted to be. I would say that my body is the means through which I do my life now- it’s no longer the focus of my life, just the instrument. I try to think about the song it is singing through its actions, the beauty it spins in its gestures, rather than what it looks like.
My life almost ended before it even got started. But thanks to Christina and the help I received, I now live the fullest life. I won’t have any regrets. The illness will try to tell you your life will get started once you’re skinny. I am here to tell you your life will get started once kiss the illness goodbye! It feels counter-intuitive to the person who has battled this type of disorder and I still struggle with this. But you need to stand up against the illness to find your true life. Do not accept substitutes- you deserve more than you know.
Below are some pictures of my life now. I hope this note inspires you to keep going- you’re stronger and more beautiful than you know!
Music by Kailee Duggan, Contact Email: Kaileed@live.ca