Thank you, Jen Su, for inspiring me to write this,
I can’t really pinpoint the day my struggle with anorexia started but if I had to pick one, I think I’d pick a day way back in 2007. No idea what day of the week it was, in fact, I can’t really remember any specifics of that day. All I can tell you for sure is that I was still in primary school and we weren’t in our school uniforms. I have a feeling we were celebrating the end of grade 7 (sort of a graduation party if you like). I was never one of the ‘skinny’ girls and in fact had the tendency to carry a bit more weight than was average or healthy.
By grade 7 and aged 13, I had been to a dietician and on a diet plan and was probably weighing the least I ever had. I was more than likely the healthiest too but I don’t really remember. Anyway, with all this weight loss, I had this new pair of red shorts, which I loved and could now wear. I had chosen to wear them that day and I’ll never ever forget the little boy who saw me, looked me up and down and then called me thunder thighs and told me I should never wear shorts again.If you want to know how much your words can impact people, here's a vague idea. To this day I struggle to wear shorts and every time I do manage, I feel as though everyone is judging me in the same way he did. With all my intellect, I know this is not the truth but facts don’t really come into play here.
Indeed, all the intellect in the world couldn’t save me from myself.
I guess, looking back, a few things came into play. I was liked more by the other kids and at least it seemed to me the teachers when I was skinnier. This trend continued on through high school with boys paying me more attention when I was skinnier than when I was a little on the chubby side. All through the beginning of high school, I struggled with my weight. Things got really bad when I was in grade 10, good grief I hated that school so very much. I was so stressed, I didn’t fit in anywhere at the school and my friends were, well...limited. I was very different and that certainly didn’t help. I was bullied and spent a lot of break time alone. I went back to thinking that if I was skinnier it might be better. It never got better. I always felt alone and stupid at school. For them, it wasn't the system that was floored but me and I assume, people like me.
My lowest weight was 42kg, certainly not emaciated for an anorexic but not strong enough for what I was doing. I was dancing, singing and acting as well as trying to [occasionally] do homework. I was tired all the time and of course depressed. Depression and Anorexia are practically best friends and if they were teenage girls, they would go everywhere together.
Already we’re talking about a lot of baggage for a 17-year-old girl and looking back, it really is clear why I never had a boyfriend. Who could love a girl who doesn’t even slightly care for herself?
Also during 2012, I tried to overdose and tried to kill myself, it never worked and for that I am very thankful. The troubles continued until I reached a point in 2014 where I honestly thought my life meant nothing and tried to end it all in a bathtub at a hotel.
I think the trouble with things like anorexia and depression is that far too many people think they are far too simple to solve. In the case of anorexia, just start eating again. It just isn’t that simple. I will always know the calorie content of everything that I put in my mouth. Anorexia makes you a maths genius, all those numbers to add up. Everything you put in your mouth needs to be counted and then, of course, there are all the conversions you have to do, from kilojoules to calories etc... Then there's the mind vs itself. All the decisions you have to make based not on what you WANT to eat but what you deem okay to eat calorie wise.
Depression...well contrary to popular belief, you can't just BE happy. There are some days where the depression is controllable, for a while you are able to shove it under your bed and almost forget about it. Then there are the days where it truly is the monster and you feel it could eat you alive with even the slightest movement. Depression and anorexia are mental diseases so please, the next time someone confides in you don’t tell them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘look on the bright side’. When you are there, you honestly cannot see the bright side, you can't see tomorrow or 'how great your life could be'. Please help us with love and support but don't show pity, it makes us feel worse. If you don't understand, tell the person who is struggling and listen (if they will talk), then, try to understand. Please don't make it about you. There wasn't anything worse than my family 'treating the bystanders', I was the one struggling and hurt but they insisted that I had damaged them. That is very selfish, as is driving the person away or treating them as if they are insane. We already feel guilty, trust me.
I just want to thank all the people in my life who have helped me along the way, this year for the first time I was able to eat because I was hungry and to choose what was appealing. It doesn’t mean I don’t know the calorie content, I do, but I choose to ignore it and live for me, live for today.
I hope anyone reading this who has struggled or is struggling can understand that recovery is a long process and that there may never be total recovery. However, it is worth the struggle and honestly not impossible by any means.
Thank you to:
My parents and friends who have supported me throughout and managed to do so with the utmost confidence that not only would I get better but also without ever acting selfishly. Special thanks to Tracy and Charles Mahony, Ronelle and Gary Sartor, Dean Sartor, Kyle Sartor, Shane Thompson, Jen Su, Boyd Meihlon, Marina Goetze, Caitlyn Mollett, Gabby Van Niekerk, Kevin McLennan and Jill Grogor.