19 years old.
I was living in Sheffield with my best friends. I was in a long term relationship, studying for a Psychology degree and working at HMV - I had it all. I was loving life.
Then I went on a diet.
I set myself a goal weight and started the Special K Diet. I enjoyed cooking evening meals with my friends and/or boyfriend and still allowed the occasional treat.
The weight became to come off and the compliments began to come in; however, I started to feel more and more insecure.
I hadn't lost 2lb this week.. Why?
I began to list the possible reasons why, whilst restricting my diet and increasing my exercise regime.
All I could think about was food.
I started counting calories.
I broke down in tears one night in the car because I didn't know which sauce my friend would be using in the evening meal they were making me - What if it was one with high calories, fat & sugar?
Headaches, stomach cramps, digestion problems & exhaustion.
Over the next few years I lost friends, my boyfriend, my life.
Having moved back home, I broke down in tears once more, stood in the kitchen with a bag of frozen vegetables in my hand, because Mum had asked 'Why don't we have potatoes with tonight tea?'.
When asked what was wrong, I had no idea. I had no idea what was wrong with me. "I just think about food, like ALL the time" I cried.
We found SYEDA on BEATs website. A South Yorkshire charity that helps those with Eating Disorders. I attended a support group. I was late, I'd got lost, I was scared and I was overwhelmed.
I spoke about my thoughts and feelings and heard that I was not alone in this madness. I cried. I was offered hugs at the end of the session which made me feel safe and loved. But I was still scared.
I couldn't keep up the strict diet and food restriction and I ended up Binge Eating, in secret. A box of cereal, a multipack of chocolate bars, a whole tub of ice cream.
In one sitting. What had I done?
I'd been 'good' all week and then I'd just devoured several thousand calories, in one go. I felt horrendously guilty and totally out of control. It's like it wasn't me that had just done that; yet here I was surrounded by empty wrappers.
Guilt. Social isolation. Loneliness.
I have been attending SYEDA support groups for almost 4 years.
'Recovery' has been poles apart from what I expected. I expected to get 'fixed' and for this nightmare to be over; to get my life back.
It's not been easy, but with SYEDA's support, family support and the friends I have met along the way, I am in a good place .
I have come out the other side. Food no longer dominates my life. It gives me the energy I need to live & love my life.
Nobody should have to suffer in silence, but Eating Disorders are more prevalent than ever before.
Don't be ashamed. Speak out and reach out for support.
Thank you SYEDA; for being there through the tears and the laughter.
- Anonymous, 2016