The F Word: Fighting My Food Demons | Just Add Ginger

NB: This post is very candid and very honest and does talk about eating disorders on a highly personal level. It is an account of a really tough time in my life.  If you do not want to read this post then I completely understand, but I felt I had to write it and share my story.

Sat on the sofa last night, about to settle down to watch American Horror Story and nibble on some Butterkist, I happened to open TimeHop. Skimming over the photos from the past 8 years I decided that if I didn't bite the bullet and finally share my story, I never will. 

The F Word: Just Add Ginger
Christmas 2005 
Let's time travel back to circa 2006 and set a bit of context. I am 19 years old. I am finishing off my first year of Uni. And I am in my first proper relationship. On paper, I should be happy. I should have my whole adulthood ahead of me. But instead, I am desperately unhappy.

It all started with my new-found love of the gym. One weekly session at the Uni gym had spurred a love for the adrenaline buzz, and now that university has finished for the summer, I am going as often as I can. I just can't get enough. I feel fit, healthy, and every time I jump on the scales and see that I have lost another lb., I become even more competitive with myself. I HAVE to be the best possible me.

My fierce competitiveness is something I've had for as long as I can remember. I think growing up an only child and having me myself and I the majority of the time meant that I created this fantastical world of imaginary friends that I competed against in games. As I got older, the friends vanished and instead, I became my biggest rival. I HAD to win.... at everything! 

The F Word - Just Add Ginger
 Spring/Summer 2006
At 19, and being in a relationship for the first time I wanted so badly to prove myself. My hemi-paresis had always had me nervous I would never find love. Nobody had ever really looked at me before, but at Uni, it was a completely different kettle of fish. The people I’d gone to school with weren't there. I had started all over again. And I had to shine.

My love for the gym quickly turned in to an obsession, and with that, came a quick distain for junk food. The takeaways vanished, and in place, bucket loads of water and fruit and veg galore. I couldn't get enough. And each day that I went without having chocolate, pizza or biscuits just made me even more keen to last another day.

The weight began to fall off me. And soon, I was fitting in to clothes that would never have made their way past my arse before. People started to notice. My parents started to notice. But me. Oblivious to what was happening, carried on and happily ignored what anyone had to say. There was only one thing on my mind...

 ...I had to be the best! 

The F Word: Just Add Ginger
My 20th Birthday - January 2007
Looking back now, I can't believe things happened as quickly as they did. Towards the end of the summer I weighed just over 6 stone. Size 4 and 6 clothes hung off me like rags. I knew what was wrong with me. But I needed someone to tell me to my face. Someone I couldn't ignore. I made an appointment with my childhood Dr and held my breath, waiting for those words .... "Yes. You're right. It's anorexia."

The next few months are a bit if a blur. My relationship came to an end just before 2nd year, and for months and months my life revolved around travelling back and forth from Uni to home, going to nutritionist appointments...doctor’s appointments,...counselling. I hardly spent any time at Uni. Some days I couldn't even get out of bed. All my friends had to be told, and there was permanently a set of scales in the kitchen because I had to weigh out food to make sure I was eating enough.

With all the support I had around me, no sooner had I hit rock bottom than I started to climb back up. By February 2007 I had reached my given goal weight. And it felt so good. All the extra health issues that had come with my illness were fading. My joints loosened, insomnia had stopped, and I had more colour. And I was more of a presence back at Uni again. My passion for writing had come back and I was ready to move on.

I had to tread carefully. Once I was back in a healthy weight bracket and I knew I was safe, it was like a switch had been flicked and I just couldn't stop eating. I had done a complete 180 and began to love food again. But now, I just didn't know when to stop. The weight went on and on and because I had been so small and then went to being much bigger, I didn't even look like me anymore. I had to re-teach myself everything I needed to know about food, and over Summer 2007, after some stricter eating and a few trips to Slimming World, I was back to being healthy and feeling comfortable.

Nearly 8 years on and it can still be tough. I'm not going to lie. Those demons that dragged me down into unhappiness are still there, but I have them under control. Some days they will try to take over, and whisper things in my ear, but with the help of The Boy & MG I can tell those demons to fuck off and they listen.

With a strong support system around me I have learnt to love myself again.  Sure it can get tough. But by talking things through, I can gain some perspective and work my way through my issues. This year it's going to be a bit tougher. I'm 10st 4lbs and the heaviest I've been in a long time. I want to tone up for the wedding so I feel like a goddess. I know it's going to be a really big balancing act. And a test of my strength. But I also know that I am a fighter. And I won't ever let myself get caught up in a relationship with my demons again.

I didn't know how to talk about this, but with a TimeHop prompt and now being a bride-to-be, I wanted to share my story to show that there is always light at the end of every tunnel, and that nobody should ever, EVER be afraid to talk about their problems.

To any of you who may be reading this and who is fighting their own anorexia battle, or has fought one, there IS help out there. Please don't ever feel like you are alone. Carry on reading underneath and you will find a link to a website that I hope will provide you with support and guidance. It's also really important to reach out to those closest to you - if you can - to help you along your road to recovery. You may not feel like they can get in to your head and understand what's going on, but just by having someone to cry on, or vent to, or talk with, it can help you feel that you are not fighting alone.

I can only share my story. I am no professional or medical expert when it comes to eating disorders, but I am here as an ear, and will listen, help, and support you as much as I can.

My name is Jackie. I had an eating disorder. And I am a fighter! 
The F Word: Just Add Ginger
Autumn 2014
If you have been touched by anything in this post, please visit http://www.b-eat.co.uk/ for help and support.