I have always wanted to have best friends. To have a few best friends and importantly, to be someone else’s best friend is something I have always longed for. But most of my teenage years were spent on the edge looking in. However, another relationship was growing throughout that time…my relationship with what became my best and only friend, Anorexia. In the end, it didn’t matter that I didn’t have other friends because I had anorexia. And that compensated for the sadness of living in the real world without best friends.
|Me (middle)with good friends at uni before anorexia took them away|
However, in my first year of university I made several really good friends. For the first time, I was actually happy with my friendship group. So it is ironic that this was the time that anorexia really took over. Maybe that thought that was still lingering in my mind gave anorexia its opportunity. The thought that everyone else was liked more than me. My destructive relationship with anorexia was growing stronger by the day and ultimately, it was ruining the friendships I had made with really good friends…anorexia was taking away what I had always wanted. As my relationship with anorexia grew, I shrank both physically and metaphorically. My life shrank to the point where it was just me, engulfed by this anorexia. It was all encompassing; I couldn’t differentiate it from myself. It was just me, I was anorexia, and I was alone.
|Me (right) with good friends at uni before anorexia took them away|
For many years it remained like this. In hospital patients often spoke of an anorexic voice in their head that spoke to them and told them what to do. I didn’t have this. I just had my head, my thoughts, and they were the anorexia. I have never been good enough for real friends. But I could be anorexic. I was good at that. Being anorexic was like giving me a best friend. However, I have slowly begun to realise that anorexia isn’t quite the best friend I thought it was.
It isn’t until recently that I have been able to distinguish between my anorexic thoughts and my own, true thoughts. But now I can and I now understand what the other patients meant when they said the anorexia was a voice in their head. Now I can separate myself from the anorexia and I don’t like it, this voice is nasty.
Best friends do things together…go out, go shopping, go round each other’s houses. They do everything and nothing together. Being with your best friend makes you happy. But not with anorexia. It has taken me a long time to realise this. Anorexia has not and never will make me happy. It is not the best friend I have always wanted. Waking me up at 5am to start hour after hour of exercise, making me lie to family, constantly making me anxious and feeling guilty, making me shut everything and everyone out. This was what my life had become. My sole focus was on exercise, restriction and weight loss. I risked my life for my best friend.
|Me with my friends from work who have made such a difference|
Over the past 5 years I have tried to distance myself from my ‘best friend’. Anorexia, who I thought was my best friend, was actually stopping me having the real best friends I truly wanted. It makes me lonely and this is a feeling I have grown to know all too well. Whilst I am not ready to break the friendship completely, I am not going to limit my life to the extent I had in order to please it. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.
Living with anorexia is an incredibly lonely experience. But the more you can quieten anorexia the easier it is for more people to come into your life and for friendships to grow. This past year I have started to make friends for the first time in what seems like forever. I go out occasionally and I really enjoy it. But anorexia still limits me and ultimately leads to my dissatisfaction that I don’t have a few best friends like everyone else seems to. However, I need to remind myself that true friendships grow over time, and the more I can break away from anorexia, the easier it will be for real friendships to grow. The friends I have made I feel truly blessed to have-they bring rays of sunshine into my dark and gloomy life. I am not used to people actually wanting to spend time with me and to have people now showing this interest is beyond my comprehension. And these are friendships I am going to invest in. There is no replacement for real friends and now that some have started to enter my life, I am not prepared to sacrifice this for anorexia.