A Story About Anorexia

Posted by Madeline Alcock on

So i want to speak about something that i have tried to discard out of my story this year. 

I want to add a trigger warning too - for those facing mental illness right now, or have done in the past, of sexual assault and domestic violence. Please  only read if you feel like you can.

But i recognise its importance in sharing these vulnerabilities - for that one person that might be going through the same. Or knows of someone that has gone through this kind of illness(es). This is a story of survival, and of healing and recovering from such a debilitating space. It is a celebration.  

 Since beginning this website and blogging - I have been asked many many times to share this story. At one stage on Instagram, I told myself and all of you (IGTV rambling)  I wouldn’t be going into my past, into my content anymore on my social platforms and only talking to you folks about my process…  The present moment “now.” Though only did I notice in a recent reflective essay that I wrote for Uni that I have been ignoring my story, avoiding yelling through this megaphone because I am afraid of being identified as the “sick sad little girl” again. I don’t enjoy people telling me “how brave I was” etc because its a fucking sensitive, ugly part of my life.  But i think we all know and understand that I am not sick! These days IM A RAY OF HAPPY GO LUCKY FUCKING SUNSHINE BABY!!!  These illnesses ( mental and physical) do not affect my in life debilitating ways anymore

 

 

Now a massive reason I haven’t ever published this story is because of the fact that this illness does not just affect me as the individual but it ricocheted into every aspect of my life, and those people as well. A lot of sensitive family issues happened around this time.

A divorce, loss of house, and my mothers business. Through that we lost income, we lost family members, I have hardly spoken too since this time. I was asked to leave school, because I couldn’t cope, I lost friends, relationships, I didn’t speak to my blood father for a part of this time, I had a miscarriage, and watched my mother sacrifice all of her for the chance to save me, and she risked her ass in allowing me to finally spread my wings and to find myself.

I do not speak lightly when I say that this illness is mother fucking destructive. To this day I hold self harm scars down one half of my body, and have to eat a restrictive diet because of the damage I caused my digestive systems. This story will not be mentioning names, or accounts of any of the details above for the respect of those people involved in all scenarios.


Recently the Australian government has FINALLY passed on some funding - and medicare rebates for people suffering with Eating Disorders. For the first time ever these people suffering will have access to a treatment plan under Medicare - This is access to psychological and dietetic services, the trouble is it wont roll out for another 12 months but it is the largest step forward in this country, dedicating itself towards this secret and silent killer.  Find out more here (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-19/government-announces-millions-in-eating-disorder-funding/8956536)

This is something I am celebrating today for all those humans that suffered the way I suffered, fumbled around in the dark and whose families had no support through this ordeal.


I also want to note that my memory around these 5years of my life is EXTREMELY foggy and vague. A lot of things i do not remember, or do not trust my memory on. This lack of memory is from the high amounts of cortisol running through my system during these years. Cortisol is released when your body is under high stress, excellent when your fight and flight response is working well - helping you respond to dangers. Though when it is switched on for long periods of time ( like during this illness for me) it begins to eat and impair the hippocampus and the amygdala - key components of (espeically emotional) memory recall and storage. This is why people the PTSD find it difficult to recall their traumas, or remember them in linear format.

The key moment I remember dedicating myself to “dieting” was when my teen hood boyfriend, who I was just head over heels for, told me he liked my hip bones sticking out. I had already begun restrictive eating at this point. I was often bullied for being the “fat friend” when I was growing up. In my household and in public. 

 

I remember a summer of sleeping through hunger pains, for weeks I slept and slept…. I swear thats all i did that summer, to a point where my body just understood it wasn’t going to be getting nutrients and began eating itself. I suffered with an eating disorder for 4 to 5 years. Though I hit rock bottom really quickly. I don’t know the time frame of how long it took me… i don’t remember. I do know, from what my mother has told me that i was really good at hiding my disorder, and she has admitted that she didn’t recognise it for quite some time. I use to bake and bake and bake for my family- I couldn’t (though wished to) eat cake and treats and if i “couldnt” then i enjoyed watching them enjoy it. I was obsessed with calorie counting and restriction - almost like a game, a form of control that was completely out of control. I was afraid of all white foods, pastas, breads, bananas, cheese, creams, and all dairy. 

I already had a presence on tumblr at this point, and the ED community on there around this time was big, nasty and filled with tips and tricks to curb eating, trick your loved ones, romanticising collar bones and self harm and… death. I spent a lot of time in this community at the beginning of my eating disorder. I would spend hours scrolling “food porn”. Looking at delicious foods to attempt to curb my own cravings.

 

I do know that when my parents ( mother and ex-step father) owned a business while i was growing up they would travel to Thailand 3 or 4 times a year to go shopping for stock.  During these times my grandparents would look after us. My mum was already concerned about me before she left ( the Eating Disorder was very much alive at this point) and i think we had one session with a dietician at this point????

Anyway, I am pretty sure it is when they got back from this trip that I had dramatically lost more weight and i was taken to the doctors straight away. At this  point I had no drive for life. I was a walking zombie, to anxious and fatigued to be able to attend school. I wagged ALL the time, I pushed myself away from friends and was failing in living essentially.

The doctor weighed me a wonderful 38kg, and contacted Newcastle hospital (2 hours away from where we were, the only hospital close to us that ran a, very dodgy, ED program) because she believed that maybe I needed to be hospitalised. We were expecting maybe a week or two before my admission.  That afternoon, Our doctor came knocking on our front door telling us to pack my bags and drive to the hospital because I needed to be admitted that night.

 

Hospital is another story, that I wont go into now - I arrived and they stuck a defibrillator on my chest because my heart wasn’t beating well. I was about to die, my body was giving up. I was terrified of that place, though after some time made some friends and i stayed in for 9 /10 weeks I think. I was fucking cheeky, disrespected nurses and doctors alike- they were the enemy in my eyes. I was a rebellious 14 year old, with black hair and a love for David bowie and The sex pistols. I felt like a gineua pig for most of my admission. I didn’t speak to the psychs - ( accept the arts therapist… she was an inspiration for why i am doing what i am doing today. SHE MADE A DIFFERENCE). I didn’t speak to my doctor, and didn’t feel looked at like a person, but as a naive and idiotic little girl that didn’t know anything. I believe that they also had NO IDEA what they were doing or what they were handling, it was a new program that was rough around the edges. \

 

When i was discharged at 45kg (still 8kg under the weight i am today ie. healthy) - I think the stress of me (I still wasn’t well), unable to feed myself, anxiety and mental illnesses still not in check and the eating disorder still very alive at this point etc. The illness causing ripples in my family on how to ‘treat’ me.   It ended in me being called a “disease” and a divorce.

 

Mum and I moved out together into an old penthouse apartment - it was lushhhhh. And i slowly started coming back to life. My memory slowly begins to patch itself together a little better around this time. I had some epic friends that picked me up and held my hand and had fun with me during this time. We abandoned the doctors orders and my mother intuitively healed me with everything she had. We ate well, she integrated me in the decisions for my life. I owe that woman my life, her unconditional love was that of a warrior. 

 

After a few months of living here.  I had a party, ( ironically Mark was there too, this i do not remember) I met a man, who was french and played the violin and twice my age ( i had just turned 16) and i fell into a hole of gaslighted love.  He invited me to go back to Europe with him, mind you i had spent less then 48 hours with this man. I begged and cried to my mother to let me go. I had two weeks until he left - He was on tour around the country. Mum gave me the ultimatum that if i started to feed myself for those two weeks I could go.

And i did.

And she cried for two weeks straight, because she knew she had to let me go.

And I went,  I spread my wings, I traveled europe. I spent 3 months over there, and then one month in Vietnam.

I was raped, I was assaulted, i slept on busses to avoid him, I was mugged, I worked in an illegal womens refuge in Ho Chi Min. I came home with a virus that gave me arthritis and i grew the fuck up.

I learnt how to survive, I noticed how BIG the world is, So much bigger then the size thighs, then the food in my belly. I learnt how to overcome a disease that i believed would kill me. I learnt how to eat, how to enjoy food by myself. I wasn’t identified by the people over there as the “girl with anorexia”. And to be frank, i had other issues to worry about. i was on another continent, essentially alone, and unable to speak another language.  I gained a new sense of who i was as a person. I went on an adventure that had its darkness and had it shadows but they showed me how to live. I never went back to him…

 

 

 

That 4 months is another massive story that i am still not ready to share completely. There are many aspects to what I have told today that even some of my closest loved ones don’t know…

 

This is a big story for me to tell. But i hope it is something that inspires others to do the same. To speak my story, to not allow this aspect of my life to be silent, because in some respect then it is winning. This is apart of who i am, how i became the way that i am. And i am grateful for the entire destructive journey. Because i wouldn’t have learnt those things i know today without it.

 

If you have gotten this far, fucking dedication my friend!

Thank you for listening to my story, or apart of it.

this is also a great perspective of Eating disorders if your curious into what its like. 

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/you-cant-ask-that 

I am sharing this story, not to intentionally trigger anyone that is going through something similar or anyone involved in my story. This is my version of this truth. What i can remember. There is no blame involved on anyone in this story, not even to myself, i had no control for most of this. 

This is a big and scary part of myself to be sharing, please respect that. 

I do not suffer with disordered eating , or body dysmorphia anymore - i am so blessed to have that demon out of my life completely. And over the past 12 months i havent suffered with depression or anxiety either. I am so blessed to have such an incredible support network around me, unconditonal love, from them and from myself and an incredible tool box of good things for myself to use in times of stress. 

 

Id love to open this discussion further, feel free to message me your story.

 

 

Have you gone through mental illness and came out the other side?

Are you still going through it?

Can you hear you intuition guiding you to your healing?

With all my love and rage,

Mads.