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MY TESTIMONY

I'd like to write a testimony on how I went through anorexia.

The reason for my illness wasn't like most, it wasn't because I didn´t like the way I looked, but I was going through a very hard moment in my life, where everything around me was slowly falling apart: I was only 13 years old and my parents were splitting up. Apart from the fact that my family was breaking into pieces, at my school they changing a few things and I got separated from my lifelong friends. For this reason, I was lost, not only in my family life, but also in my school life. I went into self-destruction, I began to stop eating little by little and each day my body would ask me for less food... I never vomited, but I did hide and throw away food, that was when I realised that once I stopped eating, my parents began to worry about me getting skinnier and I think that feeling that my parents were concerned about me led me to feel that they cared about something... and the weight I lost, the more they worried about me, which in turn made me feel better... and I entered a very dangerous cycle from which I no longer knew how to get out of... It got to the point that I ended up weighing only 25 kilos, I turned into a walking skeleton..My dad asked a cousin of his who worked at the 12 de Octubre Hospital and asked him if someone check on me, because they were concerned about how the amount of weight I had lost and he wanted them to give me a complete check-up, thank God. They took me to the hospital and I'll always remember how they put me into a room where 3 interns analysed me from top to bottom. They did all kinds of tests on me and told my parents that I had to be hospitalised that same day, that all my main organs (liver, kidneys, heart...) had been very harmed and that my body would not bear losing 500 more grams, that I would have a heart attack... I still remember it perfectly and how my mother refused to let me stay hospitalised and receive psychiatric treatment, because she said that I wasn't crazy... an attitude that's still very common in certain generations, where they think that going through Psychiatric treatment means little less than being full-on mad.

This was a tremendous shock for me. I didn't want to stay...I begged and begged my parents not to let me stay there...but the doctors assured my parents that if I left the hospital under those circumstances I wouldn't survive to tell my story, so, much to my regret and opposition they left me admitted and I stayed there for 4 months. 4 months during which every day I went to see the psychiatrist first thing in the morning and spent half an hour with her. For 3 and a half months I didn't speak a word, I limited myself to attending, looking at each other's faces and she said the same thing: if one day you want to talk and tell me how you feel, here I am. It wasn't until one day something clicked in my head and I let myself speak... it felt like breathing finally... I began to release everything I had had inside me for so long, so many months I'd been watching my world collapse and I hadn't been able to do anything about it. It was then that I understood, thanks to her, that I was calling for my parent's help, for their attention, that the not-eating from which I did not know how to get out, had been a wake-up call to my parents so that they finally realised how their divorce was affecting me, this wake-up call almost killed me. The truth is that talking about what I felt inside and what had led me to stop eating, made me understand not only how cruel this disease is to the one that has it, but also how cruel we can be to our family members, because the the suffering caused by this illness to our families is immense, it's a feeling of helplessness at not knowing how to help us... and once I realised this, it served as the stimulus I needed to try and get out of that tunnel in which I had been stuck and of which I didn't see the end. In anorexia there's a turning point at which you hit rock bottom and where you realise that you're killing yourself, when you really realise this and internalise it, it's when you start healing.

There is a very important mental factor playing part in this disease. Hence the importance of psychiatric treatment. We are the ones who distort our physique and who give it extreme importance. Nowadays social media do not help at all. Having a lot of examples of girls who live by and for their physique, makes us want to imitate them and enter this infernal addiction of which once you're inside, it is very difficult to get out and we end up playing with our health.

I think it is very important to adjust the importance we give to physical appearances. Realise that no one is perfect (even though people play with filters on social networks to try to look younger, thinner...), that there is nothing wrong with gaining a few kilos, because weight fluctuates, it is normal...we have to enjoy of food and not spend our lives counting calories. Above all, we must enjoy our life in the company of our loved ones. This disease kills many people for not being conscious of this whilst also destroying many families.

Let's learn to accept and love our body without seeking perfection. When we understand this message, we will have a much better chance of not going back into this damn disease that is kills you silently. I understood it late, but I finally did and that was 34 years ago without having relapsed even once. This is the message I want to send with my testimony, the message that this is a very misunderstood disease, in which one suffers a lot and makes their family suffer a lot too, but from which one can get out (always relying on good medical professionals and above all, and most importantly through self-acceptance).


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