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'We're proof you can recover from an eating disorder'

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Chloe and Isa were both diagnosed with anorexia as teenagers.

After getting the right support, they've recovered from the illness and they want others to know they can too.

Following Newsbeat's iPlayer documentary My Mind and Me, they've written to us to share their recovery advice.

image copyrightiSabella
image captionIsa says she is much happier and healthier now

I want you know that you're not alone in your experience of anorexia and that I'm proud of you for seeking help. I know that it's incredibly difficult getting through each day at the moment, the tensions, the feeling trapped and all the mind fog, but I promise you that it's worth keeping going because it is possible to get better, and freedom from this mental illness is 100% worth it.

I remember when I first acknowledged it was controlling me. I remember returning to school in freezing cold January and getting kicks out of my friends saying I'd lost weight. I remember the messages of worry and feeling like I'd really accomplished something. The highs didn't last long. Soon after my friends stopped telling me they were worried, they didn't say much at all. In fact, I noticed that no-one wanted to hang out with me any more. I remember the time we'd planned a trip to our favourite pizza restaurant, but my friends ran away without me. They didn't want to enjoy pizza with me there unable to join in, ironically the elephant in the room.

Uni was a changing point for me, I didn't want my eating disorder to take from me any more experiences and happiness that it already had. I had to launch myself in full throttle and really make sure I was properly fuelling myself for the nights out, and a little library work too. You know what, the lingering grip of my anorexia faded into the background. Its once commanding voice no longer dictated my actions and I have replaced what felt like the worst moments of my life with memories I will look back on fondly forever.

Anorexia will pretend to be a comfort and a friend but it's the kind that lies, steals and sabotages you. I know I was lucky with my recovery, but I still lost too much time, hurt too many people and damaged too many relationships. It's not always easy to unpack these memories but I wanted to share them with you to explain that I know to some extent the suffering you're going through. Please keep motivated because you too deserve to happiness and freedom from this illness and with the right help and a lot of determination, I promise you can have it too.

Lots of love,

Isa xxx

image copyrightChloe
image captionChloe says she's got back to her old self in the last year

Recovery is a long process. I first got ill when I was 16 and I'm 25 now and it's only in the last year I feel like I've properly recovered. In that time I have relapsed which is totally normal and you haven't failed. Please keep going because you can get your old self back. I've finally got the old Chloe back that I lost to the eating disorder and it's really worth it and makes you appreciate life so much more when you're recovered.

It was actually my friends who helped me get help to begin with. They noticed I'd lost a lot of weight and they told a teacher who sent me to the school doctor. When I relapsed it was the physical symptoms that made me realise I needed help. I was losing my hair, my feet swelled up from malnutrition, I was tired all the time. I was also becoming withdrawn from social situations, cancelling on friends, avoiding going out to restaurants. They were all signs to me something was wrong. Choosing the gym over my friends was when I felt I had a problem.

I was lucky my mum was so supportive. I used to get really upset at night and she would comfort me. I had days when I thought this would be how my life would be forever, but meeting other people who had come out the other side gave me hope. It made me realise I could recover.

Getting to university was a huge drive for me. I knew if I wanted to move away from home to go to uni I had to get myself better so I focused on that and I wanted to be more sociable again.

If you're struggling and you don't know where to turn to I'd recommend contacting Beat. They have a helpline and online forums where you can talk to people. The Samaritans are good too. They don't specialise in eating disorders but a symptom of an eating disorder can be depression and people do take their own life because of it, so if you feel that way or you feel vulnerable they're open 24/7.

Please keep going if you're struggling, I've got so much back in the last year that I thought I'd lost. When I was ill I thought being in a relationship was impossible to me but I now have a boyfriend and it's so special to me. I'm doing well in my career, buying my first home. You can recover.

Chloe x

If you're struggling with your mental health or an eating disorder you can find help at BBC Advice.

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  • Life
  • Eating disorders
  • Anorexia
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