My journey recovering from anorexia

Charlie shares how they found hope while recovering from an eating disorder.

Written by Charlie


TW // This article references eating disorders. Please look after yourself if you choose to read on. Our text support service details are listed below. While reading please keep in mind that everyone’s experience of eating disorders is different and sharing individual experiences serves to offer support to feel less alone. You can read about other people’s experiences of eating disorders.

From a young age, I was constantly focused on my body. This thought was so deeply ingrained in me that with every birthday cake candle, wishbone and wishing well coin toss, I wished to be smaller. It was like a ritual; wake up, look in the mirror, wish for a change that never happened.

I felt insignificant beside those around me and jealous of my best friends because they could eat everything and remain the same size. However, when I ate something, I felt like everyone judged me as the ‘bigger’ person.

When I was fifteen, I developed anorexia. My body image issues became both worse and better. I was losing weight which made me feel more confident, however, it was never enough to satisfy my thoughts. I had to be the smallest and eat the least.

I became this bitter person, trapped in the perspective that people who weren’t small weren’t attractive. This thought made my body image issues so much worse. I recognised that my thoughts were toxic and completely incorrect but no matter how hard I tried to escape them, I couldn’t.

How I embraced a body neutrality mindset

It wasn’t until I began recovering from anorexia that I started to embrace a body neutrality mindset. I started watching YouTubers who promoted this mindset, and honestly, they did nothing for me. I couldn’t connect with them. I felt such a dislike for my body that I felt ridiculous looking at them. So I tried different ways to make it easier for myself. I saw advice to turn off the lights when showering but instead, I kept my glasses off when getting dressed.

I began a habit where every time I did look in the mirror, instead of being critical of my flaws I named five things about myself that I liked. In the beginning, I could only name two but it was easier to focus on those two things and distract myself from the thoughts that told me that I wasn’t attractive enough, wasn’t small enough.

I used to wear baggy clothing to hide my body but instead bought new clothes in styles I used to label in my head as ‘for when I’m smaller’. I bought bigger sizes to replace stuffing myself into clothes that never fit right. I stopped looking at clothes labels, instead just looking at what I wanted and making an estimation on what would fit. I got better at my estimates over time. I have heard others who struggle with body image use a seam ripper to remove labels off clothes until they just forget to look.

I stopped waiting to feel attractive based on others’ perceptions of me and instead told myself that the right person for me would love how I looked in any way. As a trans person, this had further implications as I pushed myself to not accept just anyone who was attracted to me, they had to love all of me. This mindset was very difficult for me to switch over to after so long of expecting that others would not like me because of my body and looks.

Most importantly, I kept away from others comparing their bodies to each other. If someone brought up their weight, I either distracted myself or left the area. I removed weighing scales from my life and haven’t weighed myself in years, however, in the past, I weighed myself two or three times a day.

Music also helped me accept my body. On TikTok, I found people who wrote songs about self-acceptance and their own experiences. For example, I found the song “Body Fat Percentage” by We Three.

It took time but I reached a point where I don’t think about my body every day

I have some days where I’m unhappy with it, but I have more days where I’m relieved it got me through everything else I have experienced in life.

Having started in a place so filled with hatred and unacceptance, I’m content to be myself and dress how I always wanted to dress. I like to think that my younger self, the one who craved to be smaller is happy to see me existing and enjoying my life without it depending on what I weigh or how I look.

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