Guest post: Being diagnosed with anorexia
This guest post was written by Kathryn. Kathryn is a 34 year old accountant from London. she blogs about her attempts at recovery from PTSD and anorexia at eating-brownies.com
I turn 35 later this year. I think I’ve ticked a fair few of the stereotypical boxes – husband, career, mortgage. No children yet but we’re working on it. To the outside world, it looks like my life has gone to plan. What most people don’t know though is that, a couple of months ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
While I have always probably had a tendency to turn to food to cope with difficult emotions and there were probably times where I came close to having an eating disorder in my teenage years and early twenties, this time, the anorexia took hold frighteningly quickly; it was pretty much overnight, triggered by a perfect storm of messy life events.
As for so many people, the anorexia wasn’t really about food but about the fact that I felt like my life was spiralling out of control and the only way that I could cope was to restrict the amount of food I ate. At the time, I was signed off work with PTSD following a sexual assault; obsessing about food felt like a way to keep the intrusive images and flashbacks at bay. The further I slipped down the rabbit hole of anorexia, the ‘better’ I seemed. I was able to return to work and everyone told me how well I was doing.
Of course, it didn’t last. The therapist that I was seeing for the PTSD became alarmed at my weight loss and issued me with a series of ultimatums. Friends and colleagues started commenting on it. I made up all manner of excuses to avoid social occasions where I might have to eat. My body started rebelling; I struggled to walk up stairs and I ached all the time. My periods became erratic and then disappeared altogether; this was particularly concerning as my husband and I were supposed to be starting IVF treatment.
I still didn’t really think there was anything wrong with me though. Being able to maintain the appearance of a normal life enabled me to live in a bubble of denial. Surely if I was turning up to work every day, I couldn’t possibly be sick? My BMI was plummeting but I thought I looked absolutely fine. Finally, I saw a psychiatrist and, two hours later, I was given a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.
I’ve been receiving outpatient treatment for the last three months and I think I’m making progress although every day is a struggle. Trying to juggle the responsibilities of being an adult and the demands of recovery is harder than anything that I have ever had to do in my life. Having a busy job gives me an excellent excuse to skip meals and fall back into my habits of restriction. It find it almost impossible to reconcile the part of me that can confidently run a client workshop or present to hundreds of people and the part of me that can spend hours trying to get up the courage to eat a few spoonfuls of yogurt for breakfast.