Rakhi Sanchdev talks about her recovery from anorexia.
*Trigger warning* This article may contain information that could trigger certain behaviour. Please go back to the home page if you do not wish to continue reading this article.
A sudden desire, a sudden determination came about to rid myself from the unforgivable illness I had suffered from for three years. That, which is anorexia, was ironically eating me up inside, biting its way into my mind, taking over and swallowing any sense of reality, of a real perception of my body image.
Anorexia is unpredictable, difficult to comprehend and at its worst can be fatal. Fortunately I decided to change my life around before it reached this dreadful stage of the illness, yet unfortunately for many sufferers of anorexia this is not the case; the ‘monster’ inside the victims’ heads can attack so strongly, can remain so stubborn that the victim can see no other way of life. The ‘monster’ becomes their ‘best friend’ and they would rather live with it, than recover. I call sufferers of anorexia victims, since that is what I think they are, what I was before my full recovery; having to sacrifice many aspects of our lives to almost agree with and obey the ‘monster’ in our heads telling us not to eat, that we are ‘fat’ enough already, that food is not our friend. Anorexia is a bully.
For a long time, even once I had officially been diagnosed with the disorder, I refused to believe that this ‘monster’ wasn’t my friend, I refused to believe I was underweight and that my health was being detrimentally affected by this awful illness. My mind was in conflict regarding the phrase ‘putting on weight.’ Whilst at times I saw it as a positive, and would be upset in unintentionally losing it again after only having put a little bit on the week before, there were other times when putting on weight was seen as the worst possible thing I could do, especially if in my mind it had gone up ‘too quickly’. That would result in an inner turmoil which would last the whole week before the next weigh-in. Losing weight, putting on weight, losing it again, it was a vicious circle which I started to believe would never end. Nonetheless, there was a little light at the end of this long tunnel, and the one thing that made me see the light: dance.
Having had a passion for dance since being a young child, dancing is so important to me, it is a hobby, something which provides an immense sense of happiness as well as just making me feel free, and giving me another means in which to express myself. There came a crucial point at one stage of my recovery, where I was set a challenge of putting on weight before beginning an intense two week dance course which would result in performing on a theatre stage. I cannot even begin to explain through words how amazing the feeling is to perform on stage, and this course was so important to me. I had two weeks to gain at least some weight, otherwise I would have to forget the fact that I had auditioned and landed a place in the jazz/tap group of this dance course. Thus, began the challenge of breaking down the mental obstacles that had been set in front of me.
What made it more difficult was that the two weeks would be abroad, on a family holiday in Portugal, which could potentially have given the ‘monster’ added fuel to wreak havoc. Nonetheless, my determination to dance, to perform became the predominant force. Whilst eating foods on holiday which the ‘monster’ was telling me to be high in calories and ‘unhealthy’ I kept reading three statements which I had written on paper: ‘I am healthy, I am slim, I am fit.’ Not just simply reading them, but believing this got me through the two incredibly challenging, hard weeks and I was subsequently able and allowed to learn, dance, perform, and simply enjoy myself so much so that through the two weeks of training I started to think about the importance of food. Of course with dancing so much, energy is vital, fuel is a necessity and so that summer of 2010 was a crucial one in helping me turn my mindset around. It wasn’t that I had fully recovered at this point, however I had started to realise how important it was to recover, if I was allowed to be active, and take part in things I enjoy.
From then onwards, there were ups and downs however I was on the right path towards recovery, on the right path to ridding myself of anorexia for good, to enjoy life, enjoy food, and simply be healthy and happy with myself.
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