Written by Bridget Moore, Orygen Youth Advisory Council member.
Hello, I’m Bridget. I am recovering from an eating disorder and have been for some time. I say recovering because some aspects, especially mental aspects are still not recovered but they will be soon.
Anorexia and bulimia skewed the image of my body. Negative and unhealthy thoughts around food, my reflection and my self-worth crowded my mind and with this, the body I was born in, wasn’t loved and wasn’t treated in a way it should and deserves to be – with love, affection and kindness. I thought a person like me didn’t belong in a world like this. I felt as if my self-worth was graded by what others thought of me and images in the media. My negative thoughts – worthless, fat, ugly and simply not good enough – lead me down a dangerous and unhealthy path.
I am learning to love my body and give it the affection it deserves.
My fat bulges over my pants when I sit; stretch marks engrave my body; my thighs love each other so much they can’t be apart; scars stain my body; and cellulite dints it.
I may often feel lost, out of control and alone. But I've got a supportive group around me. My friends, my family and my treating team are all there on the side lines cheering me on and if I fall, they are there to bandage me up and put me on the right track again.
It's not easy but it has to get hard before it gets better and that's why I will continue to challenge myself even at times I don't think it's needed. The synapses will only prune away if I don't use them and that goes for my eating disorder too; the less I listen, the less I do what it tells me, the slower and quieter those signals in my brain will be until they are pruned and dropped because they are no longer needed (they were never needed).
Sometimes you have to let go to move on. Feel the fear, feel the anxiety and sit with it. Feelings are temporary and any small win you make brings you closer to beating the eating disorder.
I sometimes think I'm better off working on recovery on my own and individually due to fear of judgement and being misunderstood. But in hindsight, I will not be able to fully recover if I don't fully tell the truth about the struggles I'm having, despite the anxiety of fear and judgement.
Life's not worth following the eating disorder that clutches on like that annoying piece of hair in your eyes – it's annoying you put up with it for a little bit but then once you get rid of it you feel so much better. You get relief and that's what I will get and everyone else will get as we continue to fight our eating disorders – relief, happiness, joy and health.
The eating disorder doesn't deserve to be held on to because it feels like a ‘safety net’. It's not a safety net. It's a disorder that holds you tight, wraps you up and doesn't let go until it’s too late.
Anorexia has one of the highest mortality rates out of all mental health disorders. We don't want any more young people becoming a statistic, no matter what eating disorder or disordered eating you are struggling with; no matter your size, shape or weight; no matter your ethnicity, culture or religion; no matter your gender, sex or sexuality – your life is worth fighting for, so you go and do that!
Seek help, support and love from those around you. Recovery is made easier and better when you've got a team around you - so don't be afraid to lean on them.