In my previous post I described the stages of my relationship with ‘It’ – otherwise known as Anorexia Nervosa, ‘Miss A.N.’ I focussed on the relationship between meeting her, her becoming a friend, and then her becoming an enemy and dictator. However, I said I would leave the part of the relationship where I was escaping from her for another day – well, I guess that is today!
Miss A.N. loves to be in control. That is her aim – to be in control of people while making their life absolute misery. She laughs when we cry with despair. She applauds when we’re so hungry and crave food, yet refuse to eat. She smiles with smugness when we exercise excessively, despite the fact we have little energy left. She wants control.
The thing is, when I went through this stage of suffering, I thought wholeheartedly that I was in control. I thought that I was making these choices and they were for the best. I didn’t think for a second that I was in fact ill, and this illness was controlling my mind – and ultimately destroying my body. That’s the thing with Miss A.N. …she’s very, very sneaky.
You would think that with this much power over so many people in the world, Miss A.N. has little to fear. She has so many lives under her authority, and every moment of every day, these people obey her instructions. However, Miss A.N. has one big fear – and that is to lose control.
I remember clearly the exact day when the escape mission from Anorexia began for me. 25th July 2012, almost 4 years ago! Now, this day didn’t happen as if I suddenly had an epiphany, thinking, ‘I have an Eating Disorder, I need to get my life back’ – at this stage I was so consumed in ‘It’s’ control that I didn’t fully realise there was a problem. I mean, yes, I knew that my eating pattern wasn’t like it used to be…but I genuinely thought at that point that eating x calories a day, exercising in secret, and feeling weak, tired and dizzy all the time was normal. Miss A.N. really does mix up lies and the truth, so that sufferers can no longer distinguish between the two.
The significance of that day in July 2012, is because it was the first day I entered my local Eating Disorder clinic – and I by no means went willingly! Looking back, I think that my fear of going to this place was because Miss A.N. knew that she was ‘going down’. It makes sense…for so long Miss A.N. had complete control over Naomi, and the distress that going to this clinic caused me, was actually a reflection of Miss A.N.’s fear, that it was going to be fought against…and one day, beaten!
Miss A.N. did not go down without a fight however – in fact, this day marked the start of a very long battle. ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ vs. ‘Naomi, the ED professionals, her family/friends’. The thing is, at the start of this battle, the ‘Naomi’ part of me was confused. You see, I had been under ‘it’s’ control for months, and as soon as ‘it’ saw that people were going to help me get better, it became angrier and more torturous than ever. These thoughts told me, ‘Everyone is lying to you, I’m really your friend, They all just want to make you big, Don’t listen to them!!!’ With this going on in my head, against the words of people who cared about me and wanted to actually help me…well, I was confused. Miss A.N. had consumed me so much, that I thought I should believe ‘it’ – but then, why would my family, the people who loved me and had cared for me for 14 years of my life, be trying to harm me? Looking back now, I know that Anorexia was just in complete terror because she knew that one day, she’d be getting ‘the boot’ – but at the time, the little bit of Naomi left was in absolute confusion.
I guess that is why at the start of my recovery, all control needed to be handed over to the professionals and my family. The real me, Naomi, hadn’t built up the strength to fight Miss A.N. on her own, so I really needed people to, in a way, fight for me until I could do so myself. Now, at the time this was hard. I mean, I was 14 years old – yes, still a child, but my needs in terms of meals/snacks, weight checks etc made me feel as though I was much younger. However, this was entirely what had to happen in order to help me recover. If I had been left to nourish myself, well Miss A.N. would have taken over completely, and so I may not be sitting here 4 years later writing this blog post.
It wasn’t a smooth road by any means, and there were times where ‘it’ fought hard against anything that would help my recovery. I remember one appointment with my GP, sitting in the chair, looking at the ground and feeling completely unable to speak – I honestly felt like Miss A.N. had her long, strangling hands around my throat, holding me in complete captivity. I know now that this was Miss A.N. in fear, screaming ‘NOOO!!!’ because she knew what was being suggested was going to really help the Naomi part of me escape from her.
However, there were also times when I gained more and more control over ‘it’. Whether that was by finishing a meal, eating more ‘normally’, refusing to ‘body check’ or refusing to secretly exercise – all these ‘little successes’ got me to where I am today. I would say that now, I have control over Miss A.N. She no longer controls my life…I, Naomi, control my life, and trust me, it is a much much happier life to live in.
So if you are suffering from your own ‘Miss A.N.’ at the moment, let me tell you one thing – trust those who care about you and are trying to help you get better. They are the ones telling the truth and it is ‘the thoughts’ who are lying to you. I know it’s hard at the moment, and it almost feels disrespectful to go against your ‘friend’ Miss A.N. – but, one day when you have freedom, you will be thankful for the people who helped you…I know that I am! If you know someone who is suffering at the moment, please do not give up on them. They need your help to gain freedom, and freedom really is worth it! They may not even realise they are trapped at the moment, but with your help and support, they can get better.
Honestly, recovery is possible! – I didn’t believe this or even contemplate this phrase during my difficult days, but here I am 4 years later and I want to give you hope that you can be free. Mission ‘Escape from Miss A.N.’ is tough, but completely worth it!
| written July 2016 |