Most people believe that someone who has anorexia just eats less because they want to be thinner but it is so much more than just that. Anorexia is a mental illness which can consume you completely.It can start with just a single thought.This tiny thought grows and grows in the back of your mind until its the only thing you can think about.Anorexia becomes like your best and worst friend.She tells you that shes helping you be happy because after all skinny equals happy in our world.“Dont you want to look like those girls in the magazines”“You're not trying hard enough”“You want to be thin dont you?“ „You're not good enough”The more you listen to this voice in your head,the more you believe everything its telling you. After time, you realize that the voice is bad for you but at that point you are so consumed by thoughts, rituals and that fear, that overwhelming fear of gaining the tiniest bit of weight that you dont even care anymore. The vicious cycle starts and its so hard to break out of it. Everyday you get up and weigh yourself. Then you go through your day thinking about that one number on the scale and counting every single calorie you consume. Everyday you try to consume less and burn off more than the day before. Every calorie you consume adds to the noise in your head, the more calories you eat the more you think about how to burn them off and the harder it is to concentrate. At one point, you decide that if you're going to get through your day its easier if you dont consume any calories at all. Little by little you fade away without even realizing it. Because lets face it, what is skinny enough? there is no skinny enough. Anorexia will never let you think that you are skinny enough. You could be on the brink of death and look in the mirror and see yourself as overweight. That is due to something known as body dysmorphia. The longer anorexia controls you the worse it gets.The problem is that Anorexia is not always painful. Often its torture but sometimes there are moments where starving yourself can make you feel euphoric. That feeling of emptiness becomes an addiction, a craving. You long for it. Restriction gives you this sense of total control that you cant get from anywhere else. Its a way of finding calm in the middle of the storm which is your life and in a way it makes the bad parts worth it. It is so often said that the hardest step to recovery is having the courage to ask for help. Thats not true. What is hardest is what comes next. Recovery is so hard because you are constantly having to fight with your own mind. Part of your mind is telling you how much you are missing out on because of this illness, how the best years of your life are slipping away from you and how this pain isn't worth it.The other part of your mind is screaming at you to do everything in your power to loose weight, eat less and burn more calories. You are at war with yourself. Every bite of food is an internal struggle that makes you desperately want to turn to your many ways to cancel out that food. You have to find something that motivates you to keep fighting, something that makes you realize that your life is worth living. You can see therapist after therapist but in the end they wont be able to help you. They will guide you and try their best to help you through all these dark, destructive thoughts but in the end you are the one who has to make that terrifying choice to recover. It has to be your decision. For a while, everyday will be harder than the last. Some days will feel amazing and you”ll get this sudden burst of energy because for the first time in ages your body isn't eating away at itself but more often than not, that feeling of guilt and hatred towards yourself after every meal will make it seem like giving up altogether is the only way out but eventually it does get easier, things will look up, and you”ll stop seeing food as the enemy. Little by little you”ll start to be able to enjoy all the things that anorexia took away from you. Possibly the hardest thing about suffering from an eating disorder is that so often, even after recovery, somewhere at the back of your mind those thoughts are still there. Those same cyclical thoughts about weight and food are still there and they could be triggered at any time. It is so hard to fully recovery from an eating disorder because of the society we live in. You see pictures of skinny, famous and popular girls and of course you want to be like them. You see those pictures of the sad, fat before girl and then the pictures of the happy skinny girl that says “I went on this diet ,lost weight and now everybody loves me”.Its so hard to recover because everywhere you look there is a reminder of that thing that used to be the most important thing in the world to you and deep down you still want it.So, you learn to live with these thoughts, you learn to keep them at the back of your mind and you learn to forget them but that doesn't mean that they're not there.

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Jane Doe

Aspiring writer, budding linguist.

Cape Town, South Africa