I have suffered with anoreixa for 10 years. I have been in inpatient facilities for 8 long years. I was first admitted to an adolcent ward at 16 after my physical health and risk had become to much for the community team. Age 18 I was sectioned under the mental health act on a section 3. This remained in place for 5years. During those 5 years I was restrained and had countless NG tubes - one lasting a year.
At one stage I was taken to a general hospital as I had gone over 12 days without food or fluids. i was incredibly poorly and body was shutting down. My heart was struggling. My parents were told I might not make it. Somehow I survived the night and the hospital was forced to discharge me to a secure ward where I was restrained multiple times a day for a feed through the NG tube to keep me alive. I did not want this feed. I wanted to die. I felt I couldn't go on. I beleived I didn't deserve recovery or a life. I felt worthless and hopeless. I couldn't see a way out.
Then one day I was sat on a 2:1 for my own safety, being restrained countless times a day, just watching as the world passed me by and I suddenly felt so angry at the illness at what it had done with my life. It had taken everything from me and left me feeling hopeless. I saw my friends graduating university, travelling the world, getting engaged or married, starting families, getting their dream jobs and LIVING. I suddenly just realised I was wasting my life. i was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I felt jealous of my friends and I realised if I wanted what they had somthing was going to have to change. If i kept doing what I was doing nothing would change or I'd get worse and worse and eventually I would die. I saw I didn't have a choice, I was going to have to make changes and recover. I needed to get better. That day I made the decision that I was going to go to university and for the past 3 years that was my goal, I was determined to reach it no matter what it took.
I was transferred to an eating disorder ward where after a year of no solid food I began to eat again. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I would be in floods of tears over the food. I would be skaking so much as i brought the fork to mouth. Everything in my body was telling me not to do it. But I battled on and slowly, very slowly it got easier. I spent a year on this ward slowly gaining back my strength and fighting the thought in my head. It wasn't easy. But I knew I was getting closer to achieving university. So I pushed on.
I was then transferred to a step down facillity for eating disorders. This place helped me gain back more of a life and see that there was more to life than eating disorder, food, calories and weight. I started up horse riding which I had been forced to stop 9 years ago, I then started attending college from here to give me what I needed for university. In 2018 I completed my year at college and was accepted to Nottingham Trent University - my first choice. They helped me overcome food fears, eating alone, eating in public, cooking for myself, eating without knowing the calories. I was starting to see that recovery was possible.
In the summer of 2018 I was discharged from all inpatient settings 8 years after being admitted and I was finally off my section. It was hard as suddenly I didn't have staff support 24/7 and the community team was awful but I was so close to starting university in september, I had to keep going.
Once at university I discovered the charity First Steps. The support the community teamwere offering me was hardly anything, I was turned away from the eating disorder team because of my wieight being healthy and as I hadn't engaged in eating disorder behaviours for over 6 months. This didnt mean that I wasn't struggling though. I still had all the intrusive thoughts and feelings I just knew I couldn't afford to act on them. I felt very alone with my struggles and frustrated that wasn't getting the help I felt I needed to keep me well. This is where First Steps came in.
They saw me, not based on my weight or behaviours but simply because I said i was struggling. They offered me free weekly counselling via skype (because where my campus is located it is hard to get to the first steps office) and group support sessions for other university students every other week. This support has been invaluable to me and I firmly beleive that without I would have relapsed. I am very grateful that First Steps was there to support me and help me to continue to progress.
I am now so much happier than I have been in a very long time. I have gained back a life and freedom. University has been the best thing to happen to me. Before I doubted myself, I didn't think I would cope on my own, cooking for myself and living independantly but I have prooved to myself that I can do it. I now feel like I deserve a life, I deserve happiness and recovery. I am starting to see my self worth and I have hope for the future. I have plans for the future and I want to take every opportunity that comes my way because I am so grateful to be alive. There were many times when I could have so easily died - either by suicide or from the eating disorder and now I feel so luckly to be here at uni LIVING my life. I beleive in myself, I beleive I can do this, I beleive one day I will be totally free from anoreixa. First Steps have helped me stay at university when I have struggled but I am determined to succeed.
If I have learnt one thing its to never give up. Keep figthing. And once you beleive in yourself, once you can see you do deserve recovery and happiness it becomes that bit easier. It becomes easier to fight that voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough because you're starting to gain back some self worth. Recovery is 100% possible. And it is so so so worth it. I have so much more in my life than I have ever had, I have things I enjoy like archery and climbing and horse riding. I am doing my dream course and making new friends. I'm planning my future, all things I oculdn't do in the grips of anorexia. I have something that means more to me than the illness, something worth fighting for.
First steps have been amazing, the counsellor has been so good to talk to,and I feel listened to and supported and not alone in my struggles. I feel my struggles are still valid despite not carrying out behaviours. In my county back home there are no eating disorder charities to offer help, the nearest beat support group is two train journeys away. There is nothing like first steps in my county and probably in other counties too. Their work they do is invaluable to so many people in schools, colleages and universities. They help so many people and I really want to give something back to them, to say thank you for the help they have given me and so many other people too. I am going to be a volunteer with them but I would just love it if you could help me in raising some funds for them so they can continue to grow and expand to help more and more people!