By STAR NG
Mother of two, Holly Griffiths, is giving Anorexia the middle finger and we’re rooting for her.
The 26-year-old has battled Anorexia – an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat – for 17 years and she has been documenting her journey to recovery on her Instagram page.
A post shared by Holly (@hllylzbth) on Jun 18, 2017 at 10:44am PDT
RECOVERY STORY (part one)
I’ve spent the majority of my life in the grey area between relapse and recovery never moving forwards but occasionally falling back into the pit of anorexia.
In the spring of 2015 I relapsed. Not eating was my way to cope with my life falling apart and then it became a problem within itself that I couldn’t tackle because everything around me had fallen to shit.
I reached out for help, first going through an agency who couldn’t provide the level of therapeutic care I needed then the community mental health team who I saw once every six weeks while sitting on a waiting list for help while continuing to lose weight but somehow holding on to a slither of hope that this would kick start some sort of recovery and return to that ‘safe’ grey area.
But while I was waiting for them to find something for me I lost ‘too much weight’ and was discharged because they deemed my case too severe for them to treat.
That was a shock for several reasons. 1. It never occurred to me that I could be at that stage in my anorexia. Body dysmorphia plays havoc with your perception and I was convinced that I still had some leeway. 2. They didn’t refer me on to anything else. That was the end of my access to the NHS and professional help and I hadn’t had any help. It dawned on me that there was no one to help pick me up but myself, and if I didn’t I would die.
A post shared by Holly (@hllylzbth) on Jun 18, 2017 at 1:15pm PDT
RECOVERY STORY (part two) I can’t tell you why that suddenly hit me, I’d been passively suicidal for months and yet suddenly the loss of the prospect of any treatment gave me a good slap and woke me up to reality.
The beginning was slow. Really slow. I knew I couldn’t face a huge increase in my calories, I wasn’t really keeping anything down if I ate at all at this point and I was hyper aware of the fact that I fall back into purging each time I attempted a large calorie increase.
So I started upping my meals. I would make a really basic salad and keep it down, it started off as one meal a day, then two. Basic, hardly anything, definitely not enough, but finally something.
Then I started adding hummus, eating pizza once a week. And one that went, I started yoga again then stopped because I got injured, that was the end of any exercise for eight months, my body couldn’t cope with it.
Slowly but surely I increase calorie, adding bits and bobs to my meals, changing them but still remaining very very ‘safe’. But about five months in it all got a bit too real, I was back in the grey area and 25lbs up, constantly bloated because my gut was struggling and weighing myself every day.
I started purging as a way to offset some off the food I was eating and slow the weight gain. Pretty quickly I realised I hated that but couldn’t stop so for the first time in seven years I went back on antidepressants and started paying for some therapy.
The combination of the two helped me make a huge leap forwards. I stopped purging, gained a bit more weight and by the new year my doctor cleared me to exercise again providing I increased my calories to level the deficit. I stopped drinking all together, started @kayla #bbg and spent the first three months of 2017 figuring out how to exercise safely for the first time in my life.
I was still weighing myself everyday and panicking every time my weight went up which was inevitable because I was gaining muscle. At the end of my first round of #bbg1 I threw out all three pairs of my scales. I also introduced protein shakes and started some resistance work.
A post shared by Holly (@hllylzbth) on Jun 18, 2017 at 10:48pm PDT
RECOVERY STORY (part three) The thing about protein when you’re digestive system is still a mess is that it struggles to break it down.
I got bloated, really, really bloated. And I could see progress elsewhere but I was painfully bloated all the time and it was really triggering.
I spent a week or so trying to figure out what to do, stay on this path, tackle the bloating and hopefully it’ll get better or stop and go back to the safe grey area. I chose to move forwards, started taking digestive enzymes and doing more yoga with lots of deep twists and forward folds to massage my digestive system.
I also started tracking my macros, paying more attention to what I was putting in my body so I would be able to reach my goals and also easily adapt things if I found something wasn’t working for me.
Now I’m six months in, six months away from that grey area and in a place I’ve never been. I’ve had anorexia for seventeen years and in no attempt at recovery have I ever come this far. I’m eating between 2000kcal and 2400kcal a day, I workout four times a week with very little cardio doing a mixture of #bbg2 and lifting on top of my yoga.
I rest, I listen to my body and I take breaks when I need to. I am by no means finished. Not only do I have goals I want to reach but I’m also aware that recovery isn’t a linear process. I’m in a good place now but that isn’t a given.
I have to work, to be aware of what’s going on for me and push myself to keep moving forward and develop tools to cope with the stresses of life. And that might be for the rest of my life, but I am down for working on recovery for as long as I need to.
A post shared by Holly (@hllylzbth) on Aug 15, 2017 at 6:04am PDT
If you had told me a year ago that I’d be truly happy I would have laughed. If you had told me that I wouldn’t care about how much I weighed I would have shut you down because I believed that I would always care. If you had told me that I would love my body I would have just walked away.
Today I don’t know who I used to be. That girl is so alien and yet I was that girl for seventeen years of my life. I have had to learn how to really live this year. How to laugh, how to love, how to feel without any limits of boundaries or voices telling me that I’m not good enough.
I still have bad days. Right now I am struggling with anxiety REALLY BAD. My mental health problems haven’t just vanished into thin air. But they don’t define me, they don’t control my life, the don’t take away my worth or stop me loving myself like they used to. I am stronger not just in physical strength but in emotional and mental strength. I have become myself.
A post shared by Holly (@hllylzbth) on Aug 16, 2017 at 6:17am PDT
When I started recovering I hated it. I despised it. I despised eating. I despised my body. And I despised gaining weight.
But the thing I hated most was recovery accounts, more specifically the #realrecovery tag filled will skinny Minnie’s with huge plates of dessert and sweets and all manner of ‘terrifying’ food shouting in capitals about how damn happy and glad they were.
I hated it because recovery is so fucking awful in the early stages and no one was talking about it. Instead it was floods of people feeling ecstatic about fucking cake.
And pint parties. And there’s nothing wrong with being excited to eat. Right now I am always excited to eat. I am always hungry. But back then I was angry and bitter and terrified and I couldn’t empathise with anyone because everyone was busy smiling at donuts.
RECOVERY DOES GET EASIER. But even now I still feel the same way about early recovery. It’s awful. It’s so awful that it makes you feel it’s a rational choice to stay unwell.
It is truly one of the worst experiences of my life. and yet it is worth it. Completely and utterly, amazingly worth it. Living is worth it. But it is shit. And no amount of worth it will make those early stages any easier when you’re living them. But it can give you a reason to hold on.
A post shared by Holly (@hllylzbth) on Jul 19, 2017 at 6:58am PDT
My account has become one of the accounts I despised in early recovery. I didn’t think it was real all the self love and positivity. I thought it must be fake. How can a person gain all that weight and stop hating themselves?
I’ve proved myself wrong, I can’t imagine hating myself in the ways I used to. Sometimes I scroll back through my posts both during my relapse and those from my early recovery and I don’t recognise myself. I don’t recognise the pain and hatred I felt as I gained weight. I feel so distant from the painful stages of recovery that I don’t talk about it now.
And thus I have become a happy recovery account. and that’s fine because I am happy, and that’s an authentic thing. And I think because I’ve moved on I forget how I felt looking at accounts like mine. And when I catch myself I think ‘oh I’ve posted the whole way through my recovery, I’ve been honest, people can see that’.
But I’m also aware that you guys don’t scroll back a year to see how shitty I felt when I started my recovery. So here’s the low down.
EARLY RECOVERY IS SHIT. Your body is changing and growing and your brain isn’t catching up being able to rationalise the changes you’re going through.
In the beginning you’re stuck with a growing body and mounting hatred and disordered thoughts. It’s horiffic. But it gets easier and easier and the thoughts get quieter.
It’s not a linear process, you’ll move forward. You’ll plateau and you’ll move backwards. You’ll be doing really well and then out of the blue despise yourself.
But as time progresses the downs become further apart. You start to accept yourself, then maybe like yourself and then love yourself. One day the fog clears and you finally have some blue skies.
And that’s where I am now. But I’ve been right back there crying over a bowl of salad. It’s all down my feed if you’re interested and my inbox is always open. I have been there and I guess I’m proof that it gets easier, even when it feels impossible.
Holly’s story is definitely inspiring and an eyeopener on how dangerous a mental problem Anorexia is.
This post first appeared on 234STARS.
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