‘Running is the human body’s most raw form of freedom’.
Ironically, I run to feel in control of my body, to feel powerful, but my sheer determination to push myself beyond my limits was once my most dangerous enemy. Instead of flying free, I became trapped within my own body, controlled by my obsessive mind.
I still don’t fully understand why I contracted anorexia. One psychologist deduced that as a straight-A student, with a promising career in athletics, the pressure I put on myself eventually released in self-destruction. Another claimed a family breakdown and my mother’s cancer had led me to regain control of my life through restricted eating. These are plausible explanations, but this condition isn’t a universal reaction to people’s life struggles.
The most useful analogy made about my illness was that anorexia had entered and infected my body through no fault of my own. Mental illness, akin to physical illness happens to a person. I cannot explain why my brain decided to block my human instinct to eat, any better than you can. I wish there was a single cause so that there could be a simple solution. The support of my family and friends has been phenomenal, but the desire to regain control of my eating and my life came from within. However, viewing anorexia as an illness, rather than a stigmatized part of who I was, was an epiphany in my recovery. I was not mental, I had contracted an illness which I could fight off. Learning to live with anorexia through noticing triggers and developing coping mechanisms is tough, but possible.
Since 2012, I have gained 4 stones, completed two half marathons, trekked the Ana Purna Circuit in Nepal and cycled 214 miles across Cambodia for charity. But no achievement has been more satisfying than beating anorexia. Recovery is a journey, not a finish line; I became a trustee of the Linda Tremble Foundation to inspire those still suffering that it is worthwhile.