I'm a recovered anorexic. Ask me anything! Watch

mysticalfluffy
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I'm in my late 20s. I suffered from severe anorexia and was very underweight for over 5 years in my late teens, I still struggled with disordered eating and thinking for another 4 years or so. I've had a few minor relapses (the last of which, I was very aware of).

Now I'm happy, have a good job and I'm married. I'm generally optimistic about the future.
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TheYearNiner
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Why did you undereat?
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by TheYearNiner)
Why did you undereat?
At the time I thought it was because of self-perception. A family member said “you’re getting a double chin,” when I was sitting in a certain position. I had gained a bit of weight since puberty hit, but I wasn’t chubby or fat. I began a diet and it quickly spiralled out of control. Looking back, I see that was just the trigger. I have suffered from existential depression my whole life. My first memory: “why do I have language, why am I here, what is the meaning of all this?” I often struggled to enjoy things as I was overcome by a sense that life is largely meaningless. I still think it is, but I also see the joys of living irrespective of that awareness—when we read a novel, we can enjoy it despite knowing the character and their life is a figment of the author’s imagination.

Undereating was comforting. It was a coping mechanism. I didn’t have to ask myself these questions about existence, I didn’t have to feel things.

I also had low self-esteem—shortly before my health declined (a year before), a boy broke up with me and somewhat abused me. I thought, “is this all life has to offer me?” Anorexia for me was a slow, controlled suicide attempt and means of being numb to the world. All your body can think about is hunger.

But you soon lose that control you think you have as habits become a part of your nature.
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shohaib712
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are your bones/ribs very visible like eugenia that youtuber?
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by shohaib712)
are your bones/ribs very visible like eugenia that youtuber?
They were once. For about 4-5 years maybe. Lying on a bed or sitting on a hard seat was painful as I could feel the springs in a bed more acutely, I'd wake up bruised and I was always in pain.

Now I am slim but not dangerously so. I fall in the lower side of healthy.
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sknudson
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Did you read any meanspo, thinspo, etc. or use any other sort of "motivational" tools to fast?
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by sknudson)
Did you read any meanspo, thinspo, etc. or use any other sort of "motivational" tools to fast?
I went on pro-ana websites and read all I could about keeping hunger at bay during the first few months. I was already fasting by myself, but I wanted more methods for losing weight quicker, for hiding it from friends and family. It helped normalise from disordered thinking too. I listened to music—Fiona Apple’s Paper Bag made sense to me: “Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love.”
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Quantum_of_Hope
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(Original post by mysticalfluffy)
I'm in my late 20s. I suffered from severe anorexia and was very underweight for over 5 years in my late teens, I still struggled with disordered eating and thinking for another 4 years or so. I've had a few minor relapses (the last of which, I was very aware of).

Now I'm happy, have a good job and I'm married. I'm generally optimistic about the future.
I'm pleased to hear that you are happy now and recovered I've been suffering from anorexia for the last 6 years and am still trying to escape from this hell. Do you have any tips on recovery? What worked for you? I'm sick of anorexia stealing my happiness and opportunities from me!
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by Quantum_of_Hope)
I'm pleased to hear that you are happy now and recovered I've been suffering from anorexia for the last 6 years and am still trying to escape from this hell. Do you have any tips on recovery? What worked for you? I'm sick of anorexia stealing my happiness and opportunities from me!
Sorry to hear you’re still in that place, but I’m glad to hear you want to recover! That’s the most important thing when it comes to recovery. I re-read my journal from around that time. For many years I wrote things like, “this makes me want to survive,” or “I need to stop thinking this way.” If I hadn’t wanted desperately to get over it, I might never have done so. You need to find a will to carry on. Mine has become writing. I want people to read what I have to say. I want to fight for things I care about.

It takes a long time to break bad habits, even more so when you’re not entirely sure what caused them in the first place.

Try and do some digging, though when hungry it’s difficult to make rational sense of your life. Why are you here? Why are you doing this? Do you want to disappear? Is this for you a demonstration or your willpower? A measured suicide?

You need to find a new coping mechanism and move towards that. It can also help to find yourself in a new space. I went to university, and it was then that I started to recover (though it took many years). I had a new goal which was not to lose weight and disappear—I wanted a first class degree and I wanted to be successful. Anorexia is associated with perfectionism; you need to channel your perfectionism into something else. I knew that I couldn’t excel in academia while hungry. My A-Levels went badly as I couldn’t concentrate. I was also forced to take a lot of time out of school when my weight was at its lowest.

You also need to try (with time) to rewire your thinking about food. It is not a coping mechanism to overeat or indulge—it’s first and foremost fuel, something we need to survive.

During recovery, at first I found that this thinking led to a new form of disordered eating—I thought things like “2 brazil nuts for this nutrient, 1/4 of an avocado for this nutrient” etc. You need to be aware of the many traps your disordered mind will set for itself.

I then found myself overcompensating with food, and overeating for a while. This made me utterly depressed. I think the best thing I have done for myself is sticking largely to a wholefoods diet—meaning you can eat anything regularly so long as you made it/it’s homecooked and not overly processed. With time, this kind of eating has allowed me to eat intuitively again. I know when I’m satisfied, I don’t eat to bursting point, I allow myself indulgences. Restricting leads to binging. I’ve become something of a foodie—I don’t overindulge, I still have my little rituals (I think some ritualistic is healthy, as I don’t snack mindlessly). I will make time for a coffee and some cake/ a biscuit if I feel like it. I might have wine or some supper late at night. I prefer quality over quantity. At the same time, I’m flexible. If I’m travelling and the only vegetarian thing to eat is a bad looking sandwich, I’ll eat it. This kind of thinking takes a long time to achieve. For many years I still had some form of restrictive diet. I’d still count calories (if you do this, stop, this is out of control thinking), or say “you can have this, but not this.” If you’re reading menus and the ingredients of food packages, chances are you’re hungry so allow yourself to eat.

It’s true that yoga is good for recovering anorexics. It makes you appreciate your body. You come to realise where it’s hurting (you can feel that on your mat), you come to know where you could do with more flesh, more muscle. You feel more present in this vessel, the only one you’ve got while you live on this planet, you come to realise you need to treat it well if you are to make the most of your time here

I now view anorexia as something akin to a daemon, it’s another part of myself. It preys on me when I’m vulnerable when I’m stressed or depressed. But that awareness is life-saving, as awareness means you’re the one in control, not it.

It’s not easy, but it’s achievable. I wish you all the best, and I hope one day you’ll look back at where you are now and think, “thank goodness that nightmare is over.” When you’ve walked through a dark tunnel, freedom feels sweet. When recovering, I was hyperaware and emotional where before I’d be cold. I’d cry during films. I’d take a walk along a promenade overlooking the sea and feel something difficult to explain, a certain gratitude or oneness with the world. I often feel like I’m living at the edge, conscious of mortality, and that makes living all the sweeter. With a healthy body and a healthy mind, the world is your oyster. Time to go out and see what’s waiting for you.
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cxlvin
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What was your BMI before and after you'd recovered? Congrats btw!
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by cxlvin)
What was your BMI before and after you'd recovered? Congrats btw!
Thanks! To be honest I'm not even sure. I weighed about 5 1/2 stone at my worst I think at 5"4, maybe less but I stopped looking at the scales. I don’t weigh myself anymore. I don’t think it’s helpful for someone like me with obsessive tendencies/anxiety.
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Pathway
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(Original post by mysticalfluffy)

You need to find a new coping mechanism and move towards that. It can also help to find yourself in a new space. I went to university, and it was then that I started to recover (though it took many years). I had a new goal which was not to lose weight and disappear—I wanted a first class degree and I wanted to be successful. Anorexia is associated with perfectionism; you need to channel your perfectionism into something else. I knew that I couldn’t excel in academia while hungry. My A-Levels went badly as I couldn’t concentrate. I was also forced to take a lot of time out of school when my weight was at its lowest.
This is me to a T. Had to repeat my A-Levels (well AS Levels), still got subpar grades imo (ACD, the A was in my chosen subject at university and I was a few UMS from an A*; was supposed to get A*AB). Did graduate with a first though. :woo:

Glad to hear you have recovered, though. I feel like recovery is impossible 90% of the time, so can't even be bothered with it. :dontknow: I've lost one of my best friends partially because of her ED (ultimately her body was too weak to fight to stay alive when she killed herself).

Anyway, what did you study at university?
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Other_Owl
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Did you do any sports?
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Kathy89
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You are a strong person!!!
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by Pathway)
This is me to a T. Had to repeat my A-Levels (well AS Levels), still got subpar grades imo (ACD, the A was in my chosen subject at university and I was a few UMS from an A*; was supposed to get A*AB). Did graduate with a first though. :woo:

Glad to hear you have recovered, though. I feel like recovery is impossible 90% of the time, so can't even be bothered with it. :dontknow: I've lost one of my best friends partially because of her ED (ultimately her body was too weak to fight to stay alive when she killed herself).

Anyway, what did you study at university?
Well done on pushing through and getting a first! Just shows how insignificant things like A-Levels are in the greater scheme of things, doesn’t it?

Sorry to hear you lost a friend. It happens a lot unfortunately with this illness. It also shows the importance of taking mental health conditions seriously. People would say to me things like, “mind over matter,” or “it’s all in the mind.” It was, and our minds are us—if you have an eating disorder, the body’s illness is just a physical manifestation of this. The inner pain is so much worse.

I loved university. It was the sort of challenge I needed. I studied Italian and French at the University of Edinburgh :-)
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by Other_Owl)
Did you do any sports?
I used to walk a stretch of the southwest footpath pretty much every day. I would almost skip along it. It was very repetitive, sometimes I didn’t want to do it, but I’d find myself there every day.

I did sit-ups in the morning and at night and was often on my feet. I was too weak to do sports. I did pilates for a while but that had to stop.
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by Kathy89)
You are a strong person!!!
Thanks, I hope so <3 Sometimes I don't feel like a strong person. Sometimes I worry that my body no longer shows how I'm feeling on the inside, that people will judge me without knowing when I convey anxiety, shyness etc. But that's the same for most people in the world. No one knows what others are going through, so it's best not to judge.
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Pathway
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(Original post by mysticalfluffy)
Well done on pushing through and getting a first! Just shows how insignificant things like A-Levels are in the greater scheme of things, doesn’t it?

Sorry to hear you lost a friend. It happens a lot unfortunately with this illness. It also shows the importance of taking mental health conditions seriously. People would say to me things like, “mind over matter,” or “it’s all in the mind.” It was, and our minds are us—if you have an eating disorder, the body’s illness is just a physical manifestation of this. The inner pain is so much worse.

I loved university. It was the sort of challenge I needed. I studied Italian and French at the University of Edinburgh :-)
Yeah, all the friends I've lost had EDs (I've lost four people). Eating disorders cause so many problems it's actually crazy. But people don't think it's anything more than skin deep, which sucks. :facepalm:

I loved university too, although I very nearly didn't make it through my final year. But I wasn't in recovery, and I'm still not. ED services have given up with me so. :dontknow:

Ohh Italian and French! That must've been difficult. :eek: My mum had to go on a year abroad for her degree (French, German and Linguistics), did you have to go on a year abroad? If so, where did you go? Do you like to travel?
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mysticalfluffy
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(Original post by Pathway)
Yeah, all the friends I've lost had EDs (I've lost four people). Eating disorders cause so many problems it's actually crazy. But people don't think it's anything more than skin deep, which sucks. :facepalm:

I loved university too, although I very nearly didn't make it through my final year. But I wasn't in recovery, and I'm still not. ED services have given up with me so. :dontknow:

Ohh Italian and French! That must've been difficult. :eek: My mum had to go on a year abroad for her degree (French, German and Linguistics), did you have to go on a year abroad? If so, where did you go? Do you like to travel?
You're right. I’m a lifelong vegetarian and my brother seems to think that’s what caused my anorexia. Lol. I think it can be quite damaging thinking that anorexia is all about self-perception and food. That’s all surface level.

Don’t let anyone give up on you, but also realise there’s only so much others can do for you. You have to be the one who wants this change.

I did have a year abroad yes, between Grenoble and Milan. I now live in Argentina and have picked up a few more languages along the way
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Pathway
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(Original post by mysticalfluffy)
You're right. I’m a lifelong vegetarian and my brother seems to think that’s what caused my anorexia. Lol. I think it can be quite damaging thinking that anorexia is all about self-perception and food. That’s all surface level.

Don’t let anyone give up on you, but also realise there’s only so much others can do for you. You have to be the one who wants this change.

I did have a year abroad yes, between Grenoble and Milan. I now live in Argentina and have picked up a few more languages along the way
Yeah. ED's are so complex. Also, very true. Think the most damaging thing MH conditions do to a person is causing them to give up on themselves.

What languages do you speak?
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