Anorexia is a devil. It is a nasty, venomous parasite that wears away at you, wears away your muscle, your organs, your body, your mind, your life. A question I found myself asking this week however was: Does it wear away your personality? Am I no longer the person I used to be because anorexia has taken over and continues to reside within me?
In my lengthy times in hospital, I would often hear nurses, therapists and family members referring to ‘getting the old person back’ before anorexia had got a hold on them. Parents would say how fun their daughter used to be before they became anorexic. How their daughter had become a fraction of what they used to be, both physically and metaphorically. But is this really the case? Does a sufferer’s personality change because they become anorexic? I think to a certain extent it does. You become reclusive; you become so obsessed with weight, food, exercise and calories that you become demonic. I don’t think it is apparent to the sufferer, they don’t notice that they have changed… I don’t think they notice much outside of the anorexic world.
When I was falling into the clutches of anorexia during my first year of university, my friends said how I wasn’t as fun anymore, how I had lost my spark. But to me, I still felt exactly the same so I don’t whether what they were saying was true? But I know during my first hospital admission I did change. I was anorexic through and through, I believed anorexia was God and I hated anyone and anything that got in its way. I became a nasty, manipulative liar and I hope to god I am not like that now, but I worry that I still am.
However, I do feel I have changed A LOT since then. I am no longer full of hate, well I am but my hatred now is directed towards anorexia rather than the people trying to help. But anorexia did in the end destroy me and it eventually turned me into a nervous wreck, having panic attacks several times a day, socially phobic, terrified of everyone and everything. It has ripped me to shreds and over the past 5 years I have had to try and rebuild my foundations, to bring Rebecca back.
But if I’m honest, I don’t know if I ever knew who Rebecca was. I have managed this past year to make new friends, good friends, and they do seem to genuinely like me. But I still feel I am an unlikeable person-shy, boring, and introvert. I can also be very moody and irritable and I question whether I would be like this as much if I wasn’t suffering from anorexia. It is often described that anorexics portray these traits…I don’t want to be like this. I know part of it is in my nature, my DNA-I have never been full of the joys of spring and I have always been argumentative. But I worry anorexia is making me an even more unlikeable person.
|Was this the real me 10 years ago?
A few weeks ago at work I was described by one of my younger male colleagues as a bitch, and who this week said how unlucky someone is to have to work with me. And whilst I don’t actually care what this particular person has to say about me, it did make me question if I am portraying myself in a way that isn’t very nice or likeable, and if anorexia has anything to do with this? Would my unlikeable traits be as strong if I wasn’t anorexic?
The answer is, I don’t know. Anorexia does make life harder; it does make everything take more effort which sometimes I haven’t got. I do believe it does destroy a part of you and it numbs you to a lot of things. I am sure a true personality can always come back bigger and better than before and I think mine has started to but my personality is probably in some ways still restricted. A lot of the time I do feel like me, but I have been anorexic for so long that maybe I can’t distinguish between how I feel to how anorexia and I feel. Living with anorexia is very stressful and I think sometimes, I take this stress out on other people. But this isn’t me being inherently nasty or a fundamental flaw in my personality. And maybe, if this stress reduces and the more I quieten anorexia, the more my real personality can grow.