A girl with curly hair has her arm over her girlfriend's shoulder and talks to her while they sit in a park.

My journey to recovery with anorexia

4 min read
23 January 2019

Topics mentioned: anorexia, reaching out for help, inpatient care

Author: Hope Virgo

About: Mental health author, advocate and speaker Hope Virgo shares her ongoing journey with recovering from anorexia.

People with eating disorders really are all different shapes and sizes.

When I share my story of anorexia people often ask me, “Are you fully recovered?”

I often ponder this question. I think about where I'm at, how prominent the anorexic voice is in my head and how much it dictates my day to day. The reality is, living with that anorexic voice in your head is so frustrating.

It’s a constant battle between your best friend and your worst enemy all combined into one. It takes over everything, causing you to hate so much of life and to isolate yourself.

I developed anorexia when I was 13 years old and I loved it. I relied fully on the anorexia, longing for it and longing to make it happy. I thought the anorexia was everything to me. It wanted me and I wanted it. I hid this from everyone around me and it became my little secret.

After living with anorexia for four years I was admitted to a mental health hospital. I felt completely alone, I was absolutely terrified and so scared. What was going to happen to me?

I thought the anorexia was everything to me.

Throughout my time in hospital I felt trapped, flinging from pillar to pillar and trying so hard to accept that something was the matter with me. I had to dig deep to find the motivation to get well and then to stay well once I was discharged.

A huge part of recovery from anorexia is your weight changing. For me, it was absolutely terrifying, even when I realised it was totally okay and something I needed to do. When I first started putting on weight in hospital I found it really hard but, do you know what, there are times now when it’s felt harder.

When I share my story of recovery, I sometimes feel that people are judging me as to whether I look like I have an eating disorder or not. The fact is that people with eating disorders really are all different shapes and sizes.

Things that help me stay on the right road to recovery from anorexia

  • Reminding myself that the anorexia never actually made me happy

    You think it does, you think it is all your need. But the reality is, it is doing more harm than good. It lies to you and sucks you in with these false promises and feelings.

  • Focusing on my motivations for getting well

    From travelling around the world, to having my own children, to having the energy to do what I want to do – these are things that motivate me to get well.

  • Reflecting on how far I have come

    This is something that I am not great at, but the more I do it the easier it gets. And do you know what? I never thought I would be able to wear a bikini, eat out randomly or spontaneously, but it feels amazing that I can. Getting on top of my anorexia has allowed me to start living my life more and do things that I have always wanted to do. I actually enjoy all of it.

  • Reminding myself that what I think about myself is not my reality

    This is hard to believe sometimes, but I know it’s something I have to do, and it allows me to stay well.

  • Talking about how I feel

    I always emphasise this, and I must at times sound like a stuck record, but it’s so important to talk so that people know how we feel.

The point is that recovery isn’t always easy and I am not here to paint a happy, easy picture of recovery. At times it is so so hard. But the point is, it is so totally one hundred percent possible. And totally one hundred percent worth it.

More information and advice about anorexia

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

Thanks for sharing your story Hope Virgo

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