Thirteen years ago, I was six months in to my first anorexia inpatient admission. I had gone into that admission believing that I would only be there a matter of weeks or, at the worst, a couple of months. My plan had been to go into that eating disorder hospital, do what I had to do – rest, eat, regain the weight, and then come back into my life and pick up where I left off. I was admitted at the start of June 2008 and hoped to be ready to go back to university for the start of my second year in the October. I could not have been more wrong.
Within a week of my first eating disorder inpatient admission I was sectioned. I was now trapped in the hospital. But worse than that, within a week of arriving, I was totally trapped by anorexia. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was totally and utterly possessed by the devil anorexia. I worshiped anorexia and couldn’t do or say anything to go against it. The plan to eat, rest, & regain weight had gone right out of the window. I was fighting tooth and nail to keep my precious anorexia. I was very, very unwell.
Six months later, in December 2008, the situation had deteriorated even further. My relationship with anorexia had grown even stronger, whilst my relationships with everyone and everything else had devastatingly deteriorated. It was me, myself and anorexia against the rest of the world. I struggled greatly during my first anorexia inpatient admission. Every minute of every waking moment of the day was a torturous battle. It reached the point in December 2008 when I just couldn’t cope anymore. So I ran away.
The day I ran away, I got the Eurostar to Paris. I did have a plan in place. however, when I arrived in Paris, I was overwhelmed. Scared and lost, I didn’t know what to do. After a phone call from my mum, I was eventually persuaded to return home. My runaway had ended, but my struggle with anorexia hadn’t.
I am writing about this now because we are currently in December 2021. Every year when December comes round, I am reminded of my escape from hospital. December is the anniversary of the culmination of pain, fear and devastation that I experienced at the hands of anorexia during my first anorexia inpatient experience. The day I ran away to France. I escaped the hospital, but what I really needed, was to escape anorexia.
As I sit here on the 13 year anniversary of my runaway, I see how far I have come since then. Yes, it has taken a long time and a lot of hard work to get to where I am now in my anorexia recovery, but when is anything worth having ever quick and easy? I would never, ever want to go back to that point and state of mind when anorexia recovery terrified me so much that I felt I had to escape to France.
I have just spent the last week delivering presentations on eating disorders to a range of university students. Sharing my story and my recovery journey. There was only one journey I wanted to take in December 2008 – the journey to France. The idea of doing recovery, or losing even the smallest part of anorexia, was a journey I would have gone to any depths to avoid. But I later realised that a life with anorexia is no life at all. It is a living hell.
So I struggled off the train on the journey to hell, and fought my way onto the recovery journey. The journey to life. I am so grateful for the progress I have made in recovery. I am a million miles away from how I was in 2008 during my first anorexia inpatient admission. My seat is secure on the recovery train and I’m enjoying the views. I look forward to what I can do in my life, rather than wanting to escape it. And I’d love to welcome every single one of you onto the recovery train with me. Because I promise you, it is so worth it.