Frances Good, Beat Young Ambassador
I believe that I have always had issues with food and my weight, and so I find it hard to define when it started for me. From a very young age I could tell that my body was larger and more mature than other girls of my age and I found that very hard to sit with.
When I moved to secondary school, I gained more control over what I ate. I used this to eat 'bad foods', that we weren't allowed in the house, during both break and lunch. On the way home from school I'd visit the tuck shop, followed by a newsagent then always have a snack at home once I'd got home from school. I knew that what I was doing was ‘wrong’ as I would try to keep it a secret and always eat with different people.
This continued for a few years and I just gained weight (but was never overweight as I remained to be fit and take exercise). When I was fifteen I went on a camping trip and was admitted to hospital when I got an extremely bad case of gastroenteritis. I was in and out of hospitals, and all kinds of doctors for months and was sick daily, sometimes just once, sometimes 3 times. This went along with stomach cramps, fainting and throwing up blood. I can know see that this was the start of my fear of food due to the physical pain it would cause me. After becoming gluten and lactose intolerant, I realised when I ate less I would lose weight, and if I didn’t eat extra food to compensate for being sick I would also lose weight.
When I finally was at what I thought was an ideal body I tried to be more body confident. However, I had no sense of boundaries or my own personal space, co-dependency having always been an issue, and this body didn’t bring me the happiness my eating disorder had promised me. During this time I went to a festival where I was raped. At this point I remember thinking that I had to escape the body I was in and shrink away to a nothingness quite literally. Again trying to fix my emotions with food and weight.
Only six months later I was totally addicted to self-harm, was abusing alcohol, had been sexually abused on a further 3 occasions and had attempted suicide. My life revolved around food, every waking minute I obsessed about food, what I was going to have and when, calories, cooking (for others) the getting and using of laxatives and slimming pills and how on earth I was going to lose more and more weight.
I was lucky enough to have extremely supportive friends who were in recovery from eating disorders and they all encouraged me to seek some real treatment. On December 9th 2010 I was admitted to a residential treatment centre for anorexia and bulimia. I was in treatment for three months over Christmas and New Year. During my stay there I gained so much love and support from the therapists, nurses, volunteers and most importantly my family. For the first time in such a long time I started to appreciate my life and everything I was given. The voice inside my head telling me I was worthless and needed to lose weight started to loose its overwhelming power over me and a new freeing voice was allowed to be heard.
Since then I have had a total new lease of life, I enjoy food again, love cooking and many aspects of food. I am able to enjoy what I really love in life again and every day I overcome new hurdles in my recovery. For me recovery is an ever-flowing process but I now know that I truly have the ability to choose my way of life, rather than having it chosen for me.
My eating disorder took me to hell and back but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. If I didn’t get an eating disorder I don’t think I’d really appreciate life in the way I do today. I also wouldn’t be following my true love and passion for singing, which I hope to take further on to music school. Eating disorders are beatable, and can be beaten.