When you think of eating disorders what comes to mind? Everyone knows weight change is a side effect of an ED. And we know that food becomes an obsession with EDs and people might struggle with exercise or binge purging or be hospitalised.
But one thing I’m realising that’s really come hand in hand with my eating disorder is how behind my peer group I am.
In some ways I’ve experienced things most people my age can’t imagine- being sectioned, having the police called on me, making serious attempts on my life and nearly succeeding, spending over a year of my life altogether in hospital, going weeks without food and nearly killing myself in the process and being hospitalised miles away from my family.
But being ill for the entirety of my teenage years and especially so during my university years means I have missed out on so much. At the time I didn’t care, I was too immersed in my disorder to worry about everything I missed. Now I’m coming back to life again I’m realising how much I’ve missed. In job interviews when they ask me what did I do over the last few years I don’t have work experience or society memberships to talk about. All I can do is mumble something about being ill and trying to finish my degree.
And at uni I missed out on so much. Whilst my friends got late night takeaways and drank cocktails I either joined in then spent the rest of my night with my fingers down my throat or sat in a corner too scared to let the calories pass my lips. Nights out became impossible because I was too cold and weak to manage being out for any long period of time. I missed the celebrations of finishing my degree with friends twice and have watched two graduation ceremonies I should have been at pass me by whilst I sat in hospital or at home recovering. I missed out on relationships and casual kisses in nightclubs and dancing the night away. I missed uni balls and patrons dinners. I went from getting firsts to 2:1s and then 2:2s. I lived in the library but only because it was warm and I couldn’t eat in there. I missed weekends away with societies and meals with my flatmates. I didn’t get summer internships because I was too busy self destructing.
If I could go back and stop myself from getting an eating disorder I would. But I can’t. So I shall take the life experience it’s given me and try to make up all I’ve lost to it whilst things are good.