Member Interview: Lily and Living with Anorexia
For our first member interview, we are talking to Lily to gain a little insight to what it's like to live with anorexia.
Hi there, Lily. Tell me a little bit about you.
I’m a girl that’s very into the pretty small things in life. I have a love for plants and I have a collection of them that I take care of on a daily, I love to feel accomplished when they finally start to bloom. I have a passion for music and helping others to make that little bit of difference in another persons life. I enjoy eating healthily now a days each meal no longer feels like a chore but more like an achievement. I also love to self care very into all the spa kinda of stuff.
For those that don't know, what is anorexia?
Anorexia is an eating disorder, a mental health issue. Those who have anorexia will go to desperate measures to become thinner. Eating during this can often seem scary and counting calories loss can become obsessive. Many will either not eat or do a mass amount of excerise. A lot of those who have anorexia also have a distorted image of their bodies thinking they are overweight when in fact they are the opposite.
How has anorexia manifested and changed your life?
Majorly changed it. Looking back at the pictures and seeing how awfully thin I was and that I didn’t remember seeing myself like that at the time is really eye opening and scary.
I think it has broadened my knowledge to the fact that, happiness doesn’t come from a “good body” unless you do it the right way and even so, we as men and women should love our bodies for what it is.
It’s also helped me realize that we are so tricked as a society by photoshop, I used to not recognize when someone was photoshopped but now I do, and it’s nice to tell those around me who say I wish I could loose weight and look like her and then I go and show them the real image without photoshop and they smile and feel a little better. When it was at it’s worse my body was far from healthy, my ribs all stuck out my bones were prominent, you could fit two fingers around my wrist.
It’s not a game and not worth it for a “good body” using that method, because at the end of the day had I carried on I could have died.
What are some misconceptions you think people may have about anorexia?
It’s not just starving yourself every now and then. It’s not just refusing to eat. It’s also very mentally impacting. You become afraid of the food, obsessed with calorie counting and your self esteem is really low, you can see at all how thin you are and you think your not good enough. It’s also when people say to “just eat”.
It’s not as simple as that when your mind has twisted the concept of eating and recovery is very rocky, some may even feel guilt after eating a meal again. Within time and patience however, it can get better but it is definitely not just a case of just eating again.
What led up to you being diagnosed with anorexia?
I wore a lot of jumpers and baggy clothes during the time so nobody really noticed, I covered my face up with lots of makeup and made sure my hair covered up my thinner parts of my face.
It was only when my mother made me try on some bikini’s for our next holiday when she noticed how thin I really was, she was at work a lot of the time so she thought I had cooked myself breakfast, lunch and dinner.
After my mother had seen my body as it really was she was really concerned and took my straight to a doctor who got me to a therapist. It was around that time when I was diagnosed.
How did you feel when you got diagnosed?
I was in denial for a while. Very confused and honestly thought they didn’t know what they were talking about. Everyone else could obviously see that I was super underweight but my mind was still twisted and fogged up I thought I was over weight still.
After some time a therapy and some re evaluation of things, I finally admitted to myself this is a problem, I was anorexic.
I felt rather scared at that moment, worried thinking that I'll never be able to eat the same as I used to, but after some gentle pushes from despite being scared of the food and calories I consumed, my mom and my online friends they helped me slowly get back up to eating.
What type of treatment have you pursued?
My treatment involved talking to a therapist, a dietitian and a doctor as well as supervised weight gain. My mom also went to these family therapy sessions with me and my mom was told about how she could help encourage me to want to get better and get out of the bad mindset I had about my weight.
These days, do you feel like you effectively manage your anorexia?
I do generally eat 2-3 or sometimes even 4 meals a day. I do feel like my anorexia has gotten a lot better and I’m even starting to eat healthier too, because I realize the importance of being healthy. I feel like I effectively manage it a lot better to how I previously did which was very rocky in the recovery road but so worth it.
Do people in your life know about your diagnosis?
My mother knows, along with my dad and brother, we keep it rather compact in our family because it was up to me who I told as it’s a personal kind of thing for me and the therapist wanted me to feel comfortable. I am open to talking about it nowadays but most likely only to online friends or the people who already know.
What resources have helped you navigate this?
I've used a lot of reward charts and self care charts for every time I do eat. That method seemed to help me rather well, my therapist did ask me what I think I could try and she rather liked that idea.
Seeing body positivity movements online are also very beautiful and heart felt to me and I treasure those sort of movements heavily.
Also online therapy from childline when I needed it was really helpful and stopped me from skipping a meal many times. Seeing my own resources taking pictures of progress and such helped.
Remember that you don’t have to let the disorder control you because within time you can control it a little better.
What do you want to say to people who love someone with anorexia?
Be patient with them. Remind them off how much they mean to you, try not to make a big deal out of them for not eating but more encourage them gently. Compliment them and let them take their time, the more you push them the more they feel pressured.
Reminders that they are doing the right thing by eating, praising them when they do eat, and comfort them if they think they messed up by failing to finish a meal. Keep them close to you, they need it a lot.
Distractions are also beneficial. Self care for them is also a way of proving they are worth the time to relax.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Lily. <3
Lily is also known as _LilacRose14_#6995 on the House of Misfits Discord server. Lily is a wonderful Head of Listeners, who tends the support team in our mental health discord.