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"I thought by not eating and being skinny I would find happiness. I was so wrong"

Susie Flory is a new MQ Ambassador. She hosts her own podcast, the Inside Out Series, is an event photographer and runs a food business.  Here, she shares her experiences of living with anorexia as a teenager and her recovery.

[Trigger warning: eating disorders] 

This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve written something like this. However, it seems my story changes slightly each time depending on where I am in my life and how I feel at that moment. Over the last few months, I’ve felt really happy; experiencing feelings of excitement as I look forward to my weekend plans and make small progress in my career. However, this is not always the case and I often feel completely lost and a bit numb towards life, just wanting time to pass as opposed to living in the present.

Life is more demanding now than ever, which means looking after our mental health is even more important. In my eyes, the discussion has only just started and there is so much we need to learn and understand around mental health.  Research is so important and that is why I'm proud to be an MQ Ambassador.

My journey with mental health has been a long one, to say the least. And I’ve experienced mental illness in many forms and on many different levels. But today I thought I’d talk a little about my relationship with food.

I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was seventeen. It took me a couple of years to come to terms with the idea; I definitely lived in denial for the first few. However, once I decided to accept it, I am certain I was 70% on the way to feeling better.

It’s funny how we always want what were can’t have. Almost every day I hear someone say ‘I wish I look like that’ or show an extreme desire for having a different body shape. My body is something I’d battled with for years. I don’t think I’ve ever felt it was perfect, or even good for that matter. I know I’m not alone. However, I’ve started to accept it for what it is, and try to focus on the things I do have rather than those I don’t. And, most importantly the life it lets me live. 

We have an ability to internalise our thoughts and blow them out of proportion, this is something which is particularly apparent with anorexia. I remember feeling large when I was the smallest person in the room. Your mind can play dangerous tricks on you and, the worst part is, you are the only person that can fight them.

I thought by not eating and being skinny I would find happiness. I was so wrong; all that happened is everything I cared about got taken away from me: friends, family, love of food, ability to dance, ability to feel emotions. Finally, I now have my life back- and oh my goodness does it feel good. 

Whenever I feel insecure, I remind myself of a few things.

  • Firstly, I am strong, I could probably even run a marathon (with some training of course).
  • Secondly, I have the energy to offer my friends and have become a much more pleasant person.
  • Thirdly I am so lucky. I’ve also regained my love for food and am trying to make it as a freelance cook (fingers crossed).
  • And finally, I no longer fall into the loo when I sit on it!

Regardless, I’m still a work in progress- I always will be. In my mind, ‘recovered’ doesn’t exist, but pure happiness does. The only way I combat negative thoughts, it by turning them inside out and sharing with them with someone who I feel comfortable around- a problem shared really is a problem halved.

I’m pretty sure it gets easier as you get older, you definitely start to care less. But this year, I’m going to try and be the best version of myself rather than trying to be someone else. After all, everyone else is already taken. Rather than focussing on everything I don’t have, I’m trying to appreciate the things I do, by focussing on my strengths and relishing my weaknesses. Finally, I’m going to continue sharing- it really is the best medicine. 

Last updated: 28 July 2020

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