Anorexia - a man's story
The start of my illness with anorexia, started about the time when my life situation changed totally, my parents started going to a new church, so I went, which meant leaving my Christian youth group, i moved school, totally new friends, and we as a family moved house. Everything was new, and quietly and slowly that threw me. All I knew, was gone, and looking back I wasn't really sure how to fit in.
From birth I was bought up in a Christian home, both my parents were raised by Christian parents, which meant that from as early as I can remember I knew there was a God and that He was a great God who was to be respected, feared and looked to. This has always been with me, throughout life, even when at my most ill, there was always a trace of remembrance that God is God and I should live for Him, not me.
At 12, while at a Christian summer camp, I prayed a prayer of commitment, giving Jesus my life, this was a sincere prayer but made little difference to what I did with my life. In fact, mostly, I began to grow more and more distant from Him as I started hanging out with some friends more, and discovering this world that was opening up to me.
Before falling ill with anorexia I had no knowledge of or understanding of the illness. Anorexia crept up on me from behind, no warning, I had no idea what it was, I didn't want it, it came looking for me. It was probably a year or more into it that I began to realise that thing called anorexia might be what was happening to me. I just thought I was not eating, being disciplined and not being a glutton. By the time anorexia had me though, I didn't want to let it go. It gripped me, I had no say in the matter in whatever I did. It held me, led me and had me as its slave. Romans 6:16 spells it out 'Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey...' I presented myself willingly to this crushing illness and it had me as its slave.
At first I started missing lunch, seeing it as an unnecessary option I could do without, and the money I saved from not eating could go towards the turntables I was saving up for. And it seemed 'neater' if I skip lunch, eat just two meals a day, and that seemed clearer, more disciplined, I didn't need to snack.
That grew quickly to not eating any fatty foods, chocolate or sugary drinks and then sooner than later I stopped eating breakfast. At my lowest points I was eating something (usually 4-6 apples depending on how disciplined I was that day, and Cox's because they were small) once a day or every other day. On occasions, my resolve would slip and I would binge on whatever was in the house until it was too painful to stand or sit, I didn't want to but the anorexia and my obsession with food had me, I had no control over it.
I lied would often lie to my parents to get out of eating dinner with them, I had a friend of a friend who worked in McDonalds, so I would go out and have dinner at McDonalds with him, while actually running around the local parks trying to empty myself of any residue food in me. One lie I carried out alot, was to cook food when my family were out, put it on a plate and then promptly scooping it all into the waste disposal. Then I had a plate that looked exactly like id just eaten dinner on it, I left it out on the table as my false trophy and therefore didn?t need to eat dinner with them.
And I would exercise to extremes. I kept up a paper round on roller skates the whole time I was ill, joined a swimming club (dad told me, mum was worried I'd start one length and disappear into a skinny nothing and not reach the other end!), went running most nights, and went to the gym up to 5 days a week.
I was never hospitalised and am very aware, that this affects some for far longer and with greater intensity, I can only thank God that He restrained me and kept me from sinking any lower.
The turning point came when I realised that I actually didn't want to live this way anymore, I had no friends, no relationship with anyone. I went out with a girl at school for about 2 weeks, but I couldn?t cope kissing her, because 10 minutes ago she had eaten a kit kat and I wasn't going to risk absorbing chocolate for a kiss (anorexics don't make good boyfriend/girlfriends!). I was depressed, utterly self-absorbed and it was crushing me. One night I spent all night up, unable to know what to do, just crying, with nothing before me but a dark life.
Dad came in and listened to me, and for the first time in a long time, someone heard what I was going through and I suddenly felt like someone was with me, and for me. Suddenly, once I'd offloaded to dad, and felt his support, I felt a strength to look to recovering. That night was God intervening, hearing my heart. I was not thinking of Him, but He was thinking of me, can came to help.
I began to meet with a nutritionist who just weigh me and tell me to eat more meals at more regular times, which really didn't help. I also met with a psychiatrist, which I enjoyed, because I had someone who wanted to listen to what I was feeling, but actually all she could do was encourage me to eat. A bit like telling an alcoholic to stop drinking and a depressed patient to cheer up, it did no good.
I began to know hope when I began to meet with a pastor who faithfully walked me thorugh Marks gospel, and re-introduced me to Jesus. He then got me into church again, into a small group, time with Christians, worshiping with others, that the sinful, secretive, gripping habits began to almost fall of without any effort. I just began not to want to be like that but to be normal and live for Jesus not for me.
Some people go to drugs, drinks, girls, I went to a legalistic, regimented, fixed life of self-denial. All is just different forms of self-absorption. If wasn't until someone introduced me to Jesus again, that I realised that life was to be found, not by thinking about me but by looking to Jesus, and hearing what He has to say and what He did.
My hope and prayer is that anyone suffering with an eating disorder would look on Jesus and ask for His life giving power.