My battle with anorexia: a personal story from jade thirlwall

My name is Jade, and for many years I have silently battled with anorexia. It started when I was just a young teenager and has been a continuous struggle throughout my adult life.

I never intended to develop this eating disorder; however, images of thin models and celebrities in magazines made me think that was what I ‘should’ look like. With the encouragement from those around me (non intentionally), I did whatever it took to look like them - which meant eating less and exercising more. The result was that I stopped feeling ‘full’, but felt accomplished instead because I was constantly losing weight and getting closer to creating the body type I thought should match my gender.

At times, this journey felt empowering, almost like a game against myself where the goal was to have an ultra-thin body in order to keep up with societal expectations. After a while though, the hunger also subsided and left only feelings of guilt attached to food - guilt that prevented me from having a healthy relationship with food one year into adulthood.

It sounds crazy now, but at the time it was difficult for me to recognise that what I was doing had long-term negative effects on my mental and physical health. Myself confidence didn’t improve much despite all of my hard work; being so focused on what size clothes I could fit into distracted me from actually enjoying living life as a teen or as an adult thus far.

It has taken me some time and help from professionals along the way, but today I am happy to say that while there are still some days where doubt creeps in - doubt about my body image - I stay focused on enjoying life rather than worrying about calories or exercise regime too much. What matters most is learning how important self-care is every day!

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Hi Jade!

It sounds like you have gone through a tough and challenging journey. Battling anorexia is no easy feat, and I admire your strength for seeking help to stay focused on enjoying life and taking care of yourself. It can be so difficult to break out of the cycle of trying to measure up to societal expectations, especially when we’re bombarded with images telling us otherwise. You’ve done the hard work and it’s rewarding you with a healthier relationship with food - that in itself is a huge accomplishment!

It’s important that we surround ourselves with people who are understanding and supportive; while I’m sure those around you didn’t mean to encourage your eating disorder, sometimes it takes others speaking into our lives to remind us that our worth isn’t based on our size or our weight.

I’m sorry you had to go through this experience, but you can take comfort in knowing that by sharing your story, you are inspiring many other women who may be struggling silently just like you did before. Well done for understanding the importance of self-care - keep up the good work!