Tell your experiences of eating disorders and recovery from someone else’s point of view. It might be a relative, a friend, a professional. What did they see? How might they have felt? What did they do? Do they regret it? What do they feel about where you are at now? What are their hopes? What are their fears?
When I looked at this challenge I thought about all the people my eating disorder had affected.
My parents, who were living 300 miles away during all periods and didn't really see it first hand although I'm sure they felt it. My housemates in the 'early days,'or my close friends who supported me through the tough times.
In the end I decided to look at it through the eyes of the one person who has believed in me throughout, the one who who has taken the rough with the smooth and has supported me through 2 periods of Anorexia; my Husband.
So this is how I think he felt, how he saw things.......
I can remember when you came downstairs all dressed up ready for a night out for her friends birthday. 'How do I look,' you asked. I replied with, lovely, that dress makes you look ever so slim!!!!
Thinking back now I probably knew something was not quite right, but was unsure of what to say. You had been a good ten years well, with only a few little manageable hiccups along the way.
So I ignored it, pushed it to one side and carried on as normal.
I did notice a change in your personality. You seemed withdrawn, not your usually bubbly self. You would take yourself off to bed at mealtimes complaining of stomach aches, headaches, any excuse. You spent periods of time on your own, often going off on an evening walking whilst listening to your music. How did I not notice what was going on?
It was one evening when we had been out to the pub, you were a little worse for wear and became upset. You started telling me how you were feeling, showed me the anti depressants the Doctor had given you. I dismissed it, saying it wasn't the right time to talk and we would do it in the morning. Drunken conversations about serious matters so not work.
So we did talk in the morning. You told me about how you were being ill again, how you were restricting your diet, how you had already been to the GP and had being hiding this from me for the past few months.
How did I not know, I should have recognised all the signs from last time. To be honest I didn't think there would be a 'next time.'
You asked me to come to a support group with you, i refused. I still have vivid memories of the 'last time,' . Listening to a group of emaciated women talking about how many years they had been locked in the hell, was this what I had to look forward to in our relationship?
As the days went into weeks then into months I just watched you disappear before my eyes.
You became weak and lifeless, you had lost your sparkle and your zest for life.
I was terrified the morning I found you on the sofa down stairs and couldn't wake you, I honestly thought I had lost you. That scared me......
I stopped commenting on what you were eating as nothing I did was right. I tried to get you to eat, even getting diet produce from the supermarket just in the hope that I could tempt you. Nothing I did seemed to help. If I didn't say anything I didn't care and If I did I was nagging and being patronising, I couldn't win.
How could I tell you what you really looked like, that I was finding clumps of your hair in the shower and on the pillow.
I was scared to hug you in case I hurt you.
We were due to go on holiday and you had managed to hide yourself away, I was shocked when I eventually saw you in a swimsuit.
I just couldn't understand why this was happening again, last time I could understand the circumstances, but this time I had no idea. Whatever was going on in your life you hid it from and kept it to yourself.
I was so pleased when you took the step to to go to counselling and still listened to your pathetic excuses why you couldn't eat certain foods.
I dreaded our Summer holiday, couldn't see you being up to it physically but was so pleased to see a little bit of the old you come back even though you were at your lowest weight.
You actually seemed to enjoy the meals out even though I could see the initial stress the menu choices were causing you. You even relaxed enough to tell me what was worrying you and what your thoughts were, I think that must have been a huge relief.
I think this was the worst period of Anorexia I have seen you go through, and I felt so helpless, I wanted to understand, to make it all better but I couldn't. I felt so lost and helpless. You stopped going out after a nasty comment from an acquaintance. I went looking for him one evening to tell him what affect his cruel words had on you, I may not be able to make you eat but I could stop others hurting you.
It got to the point where 'it' wasn't discussed anymore, only the practicalities around Christmas meals and other social events. It more almost accepted by you but it wasn't by me. You tried so hard at Christmas, OK they were all your rules and you controlled everything but you did it. I was so proud.
You slowly began to get better, day by day, and I do believe you were being honest with me. I know you have been scared and I know there have been very dark times.
I thought you had reached a turning point and then your Mum died. I didn't see you for three weeks and I was scared that you would not be taking care of yourself. When I saw you I was honest and told you I knew you had lost weight. You were honest and told me there were scales in the house!! I was so happy when you came home and it was like a switch being turned on, you went back to trying.
Now things are back as they were. I do worry still. I panicked when you gave up smoking then after your operation in case you put on weight. You reassured me and explained its not about the weight and food, you were happy and things were going well. All was good.
You continue to go to your support groups and I have thought you may need to take a step back sometimes but again you tell me its OK.
I am so proud of what you have achieved but I still worry about you, I try not to look at whats on your plate or comment on your food, but you know I still do at times. You accept this now.
This was really hard to write as I know Kev struggled throughout my illness and felt helpless. He has helped me just by still being here. Lesser men would have left after the first time and I love him dearly for that.