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!