Eating disorders. They are a pain. They sabotage the brains of beautiful people and play havoc with their lives and those of their families. I know, for I was a prisoner of anorexia and bulimia for more than 40 years, from age 11. But I am lucky. I survived and, with much help, rebuilt and regained my true self.
In the past seven years, I have celebrated this freedom by writing books about eating disorders – throughout my long and often lonely struggle, I always figured that if ‘ED’, as I called my eating disorder, could be exposed in the light where it could not hide, it could be more easily overcome and exterminated.
Writing is my way of letting sufferers and their families know that they are not alone, that help and understanding is available, and yes, recovery is possible.
This year I will share what life is like beyond recovery – without an eating disorder bossing me around. Every week, I plan to blog about an aspect of life that has nothing to do with ‘ED’ and everything to do with me. I promise you some fun!
Because I was a prisoner of my eating disorders for a long time, I’ve taken a while to get to know the real me, and remain a work-in-progress!
I can see, now that some time has elapsed, that writing books has been a way of coping, initially, with the newfound ‘me’. The rewards have been great. By stepping out and sharing my story, I have met many people in the eating disorder field – from wonderful world-leading researchers to parents and sufferers – who have become friends, and helped in many ways to strengthen and develop my new self. It is difficult to describe how special and reassuring it is to be acknowledged and accepted as a person in one’s own right. When living with an eating disorder bully, it is easy to feel worthless. The bully, after all, wants to dominate us and does this by constantly putting us down.
So, when free of the bully, what is life like? For years, I dreamed of this freedom and wondered what would it be like to have even one day when I could eat three meals, ‘like a normal person’, and not feel guilty? Well, today every day is like this, and I can tell you that it feels absolutely great.
I joke with my four children – aged 36, 37, 38 and 40 – that my age is 33. Yes, younger than them. They seem so wise and mature! They smile and nod their heads. They understand that in many ways, I am indeed 33 – or thereabouts – because I am catching up on life experiences. Catching up on and feasting on a life free of torment from, and manipulation by, ED: I am exploring the social aspects, the relationship aspects and the everyday aspects that contribute to a full and meaningful life.
Since 2006 I have been as contented and as happy as could be. Above all, for the first time since age 11, I have been truly enjoying family. Sadly, my eating disorder illness led to gradual alienation from my family of origin. Marriage was another casualty, but George, my children’s dad, remained ‘an anchor of stability’ and support. In 2013 I feel very blessed to have a family that comprises our four children, their partners and our five grandchildren. To top it all, during 2012, a wonderful man entered my life and helped me realise that life can be even more beautiful, fun and meaningful. His name happens to be George. For the first time in my life I am enjoying a relationship unfettered by ED. With George, I am experiencing the icing on the cake of life. Between us we have seven grand children, under the age of six.
Stand by for fun.