Get involved Eating Disorders Awareness Week Hope Virgo How would you explain your identity differs now from when your ED voice was at its loudest? Anorexia used to fully consume me. It was all of me. I thought it was all I had and all I wanted. I didn’t realise it at the time but the anorexia was my entire identity and I felt completely trapped by it. I didn’t realise that having a really close identity with anorexia, having that really rigid structure over who I was was going to be that dangerous for me. Now I see my anorexia as something that is not part of who I am. It is not me. Yes, it will always be part of my past identity and I cannot change that but now I am so much more than it. I am an Author, a runner, a campaigner, a sister… A part of my identity that the anorexia tries to make me struggle with from time to time is what I look like. It ridicules me every now and again telling me that I don’t look anorexic so how can I possible talk about recovery, it tells me I am ugly, fat and a failure for letting myself get well but I know how to deal with that now. I know there may be times when the anorexia tries to take over my identity again but I now know I won’t ever let it. I am so much more than my anorexia and so much stronger without it. Did you still feel like there were parts of yourself (hopes, dreams and passions) throughout the time you were struggling with your ED? Anorexia made me feel completely indestructible. I didn’t actually think I would ever stop achieving all those things I wanted to. I still had a love of running, going out with my friends and exploring the world. What I didn’t realise was how the anorexia limited all that enjoyment and stopped me wanting to take part in activities properly. When I was in hospital I had to really focus on my motivations for getting well. To get all those hopes, dreams and passions back. For me it was about realising I wanted so much more from life, I wanted to travel, get a job, going to University and one day have children – I knew that if I didn’t get well none of this would be possible. I encourage you to stop and think about your hopes and dreams for the future, whatever anorexia makes you believe, they won’t be as fun, or as enjoyable unless you start beating that voice in your head. If you could give advice to someone experiencing something similar to what you experienced, what would you say? You think that anorexia is your best friend, you think it gives you everything you need, that value, sense of purpose... but the reality is, all of that is so short lived and there is so much more to life. It took me hitting rock bottom to realise that anorexia did not make me invincible, that it was not what I needed or wanted. I was never even happy when I was living with it dominating my life but for some reason I thought I was. Please if you are struggling with that manipulative voice in your head dictating your every move, please know it isn't worth listening to. Reach out for support because when you start fighting, yes it won't always be easy, but I promise it is 100% worth it. One day you will too get to that place where you don't have to calorie count, you don't feel too afraid to go out for dinners or wear a swimsuit.