Abbie is running the marathon to raise awareness of anorexia and show that everyone is able to recover
I’ve always loved to express myself and help other people. To me there is no better feeling than making someone else happy or giving them comfort that they’re not alone, especially when it comes to mental health. This being the reason I decided to run for Heads Together.
For a very long time I lost myself and I couldn’t understand why I was the way I was. I was blinded by this false sense of reality that the only way to be ‘accepted’ was to be skinny and food very quickly dominated my life. It was at this point I was diagnosed with anorexia, despite always thinking I would be one of the last people to ever develop an eating disorder.
I was struck with this deep fear of being a normal weight because in my mind or as the voice in my head liked to tell me I would be losing control if I allowed myself to have what I wanted. Looking back now I know I couldn’t have been more wrong. Certain foods I use to love became scary to me and instead of enjoying myself I restricted my diet completely and turned eating into a chore. I only ever felt good about myself if I looked good and as a result I very quickly became focused solely on how I looked rather than who I was as a person.
I will never forget the time I went to a little tea room with my mum for lunch and I ended up crying and having a panic attack at the table because I couldn’t bring myself to eat the salad I had ordered yet at the same time I was somehow pleased with myself for skipping another countless meal. I was trapped by what I would call Anna (the voice in my head) who eventually even managed to make healthy foods seem unhealthy. Anorexia has costs but it also has benefits in the way that it can sometimes make the suffer feel powerful which is what makes it “an illness of contradictions”. I use to spend hours pushing my body through exercise until it physically couldn’t take anymore but of course this was never enough. Nothing ever was.
Truth is I wasn’t living anymore and nothing about that was glamorous. Not only did it affect me but it also had a huge impact on those around me which is something I don’t think a lot of people realise. Anorexia can not only ruin a person but all of their relationships too. I was worrying and hurting the people closest to me and that’s when I decided enough was enough.
I had to learn to re-adopt the healthy, happy mind-set I once had for everyone that wanted me to get better but most importantly for myself. I discovered it was only when I got help and opened up that things gradually improved. As one of my best friends always told me a problem shared is a problem halved. I’m now in the best place I’ve ever been and proved that anything is possible. Although I believe in some ways I’m still on my journey I’ve learnt so much from the person I use to be by recovering the part of me that went missing. It’s ok to struggle and have those kind of days where I don’t have the “I’ll eat what I want when want,” kind of attitude because that’s normal. I am normal and I always was I just didn’t know how to handle what I was experiencing in the right way.
Any illness can cause a huge strain on your life but particularly those that affect you mentally can make you so unbearably miserable however the most significant thing to remember is that we are all able to recover. I can tell you that you are already stronger than you know and that is something you should be so proud of. I can only hope through bringing some light on such a serious topic that many feel ashamed to even touch upon, whilst sharing my own experiences I can change, educate and inspire others to do the same. Don’t let you past define your future.