I was attending church in Bournemouth, and it was there that I saw a notice about i*eat one Sunday. The idea of maybe being able to escape the craziness in my own head kept niggling at me, and so eventually I logged on to the website, and found out that there were drop-in sessions you could go to. I was SO scared, but I remember thinking “I’d rather die than keep living like this. Either I escape, or die trying to, so it’s worth a shot”.
I went to the drop-in, thinking I shouldn’t be there, that I didn’t deserve it, that there were so many more people that needed this help more than I did, and that I was taking up so much time unnecessarily…. But as soon as I walked in I was met with amazing warmth and gentleness. After such a long time of feeling worthless, being made to feel that someone genuinely cared about me and wanted to help me was almost unbelievable. I was able to meet with a counsellor that same night, and start what turned out to be a lot of talking. This was in November, and from then until January I came back pretty much weekly to start to try and unravel some of the reasons behind my illness and the lies that were consuming my mind.
It wasn’t easy. I felt extremely guilty, as though I were betraying the only thing that had given me a purpose in life. Rather than feeling better, I was feeling worse, and at New Year contacted i*eat to say that it just wasn’t working out for me, thanks for everything, but I wouldn’t be coming back. I received a reply asking me to stick with it a little bit longer – apparently the counsellor I was seeing was actually only filling in for another person, a lady who’d been on maternity leave, but who would be back soon. I should wait a few weeks, after that I could give it all up if I wanted to, but just once I should meet this lady, a mysterious Jess. Once again the “well it can’t really get much worse than this” concept popped into my mind, so I agreed to wait and meet this Jess, but at the same time started collecting pills. If it didn’t work out then I didn’t want to fight anymore and was going to overdose again.
Arriving to meet Jess I was once again filled with all my insecurities. Ok, yeah, everyone else at i*eat had been lovely, but she’d see straight through me and tell me to stop taking up everyone’s time. ….I couldn’t have been more wrong! Knowing that she had recovered from an eating disorder, that she’d battled and escaped, and come out the other side as such a caring, compassionate, person made me feel so comfortable that I found myself explaining things to her that I didn’t know I had the words for! I felt so desperate that I’d carried my pill-stash with me – I’d decided that if this meeting didn’t go well that was it, I had no reason to carry on. On finding this out, Jess wasn’t shocked, or judgemental or angry. But she did sit with me whilst I flushed every pill down the toilet. And it was this insane dedication to a complete stranger that made all the difference.
I don’t know what to say about the months of work that followed. There were so many times that I didn’t believe I could do it, that I just felt too weak and couldn’t envision a ‘normal’ life, but then also felt cut off from the protection and safety of the numbness that anorexia had provided. I really feel mine and Jess’ personalities were just right for each other, she knew exactly when to push me, and what to say at exactly the right time. She’s the most mean, yet kind person, that I’m terrified of, but love to pieces all at the same time! With each tiny breakthrough it felt like I was taking 1 step forwards and 5 back, but I stuck with it because I just felt so looked after. Getting better was an intense task – there were counselling sessions, nutritionist meetings, meal support – but the entire time I felt so supported and cared for, like there was a reason to keep going and I deserved to get my life back. Having people behind me believing in me made all the difference!
I feel so free, like I can do absolutely anything I want to now. I just hope that I can use my experience to one day help others too – I want to give back, because I know I’d never ever have been able to make it here without everyone’s help and endless support!