Standing out from the crowd: Tracey

by Anne-Sophie

in Inspiration

Every now and then, I feature an inspiring person who has struggled with anorexia at one point in his or her life and has recovered.

I am all about spreading the message of hope because this is something we so often lack.When we’re in such a deep relationship with our eating disorder and these sick thoughts and behaviors take up most of our time and shape our days, it is hard to remember that there is a way out.

Today’s word fo the June blogging challenge is “crowd” and I couldn’t think of  anybody better than Tracey to represent a force (a VERY positive one) that stands out from the crowd, going her own way and making a huge difference.

I am hoping to inspire and motivate you with these interviews and that you too will see that you can get your life back.

Today the beautiful Tracey of WeRFreedomFighters shares her story.

1.     Tell us something about you. Who are you? What do you do in life? Etc.

I’m a twenty something slightly weird chick living in the north east of England.  I am currently training to be a mental health nurse and work as a support worker on a casual basis.  Previously I’ve done allsorts of jobs from paper rounds to checkout operator, bar maid to low-rent journalism and working with children and teenagers with severe behavioral problems.  I love people and a challenge!  I love animals and like with my two dogs and four cats (who incidentally are the best therapists ever!) and have a passionate heart for challenging the stigmas, inconsistencies and areas od lacking in mental health services.

2.     When and why did your eating disorder start?

I was 13.  I was in a very abusive relationship and I wanted to disappear so I starved.  Ironically as I got smaller, I became more visible which terrified me and catapulted me into bulimia.

3.     What was your biggest fear? Why did you starve yourself?

When I starved myself I think part of it was about claiming the only thing I felt I had left to control – but mostly I just wanted to disappear, I wanted not to be seen because I felt so ashamed and because I was terrified somebody would find out what was happening to me.

4.     When did your healing process start and do you know what made you decide why you wanted to change your life?

In terms of eating disorders and behaviors I think I hit a series of lows with it – stealing laxatives, eating my flat mates birthday cake without permission and then lying about it, having an ‘accident’ related to laxatives.  There was that, but also I had friends who were amazing, who had experienced eating disorders and were in recovery and who told me the realities of what I was doing, offered me support and hope to finding a way out.  I was exhausted and hurting and came to a place where I tried to die.  I think when you’ve been in that place you realize there is nothing left to lose.

5.     Can you tell us more about your healing process?

For me healing was never linear.  I didn’t get better and better.  I improved a lot, but then had a blip and struggled a little.  Then I pushed forward more this is how I healed.  I am still healing.  There are issues, which lie at the root of my ED that I have to deal with, have been dealing with and am dealing with.  I guess for me that’s the thing I want people to realize most, that you have to deal with the root – whatever it is – the emotions, fears, events that triggered your ED and work through them.  Its like weeds – if you don’t pull up the root – they just grow back.

6.     Do you still have a “black list” of items that you won’t it? Or can you now say, you eat everything you want?

I actually don’t have a black list anymore.  I still have a cautiousness and slight unease at events where the meal is a buffet, more I think because of bad memories and because I’m socially anxious at times but other than that there isn’t anything I don’t eat – the thing I rejoice in most is that now when I think of foods and how they taste I don’t recall what they taste like coming back up!

7.     Do you consider yourself healthy now? Do you feel comfortable in your skin?

I’m certainly healthier.  I still have issues I’m working through in terms of how I relate to my body because of the history of abuse.  I remain overweight.  Part of this I think is to do with weight I gained during the ED, part is weight related to medication and other physical health issues.  But I eat properly, healthy, balanced – I walk twice a day with my dogs and do yoga and zumba – exercise that I enjoy and do because it makes me feel good.  I feel more comfortable in my skin.  Not completely comfortable but I embrace myself in a deeper way and with greater ease.  Recovery is a journey not a destination and I’m well on my way.

8.     Do you think that there could be done more in order to prevent eating disorders?

There are SO many things that could be done to prevent eating disorders or at least to catch them before too much damage is done.  I believe that often people have a genetic predisposition which makes them vulnerable, other people experience pre-verbal trauma which impacts them, there’s social pressures, home environments – so many factors which can contribute to an ED.  I think making people aware of the diverse realities of eating disorders is important.  It’s not necessarily emaciated white teenage girls who suffer – sometimes an Ed can’t be seen and people, especially those in the medical profession, need to be aware of that.  I think working with children in building self-awareness, self-esteem, confidence and emotional intelligence is important.  Also treatment options need to be more accessible and accessible faster, as well as there being a greater degree of multi agency working so that people can get the best support possible from the right people simultaneously.

9.    Is there any advice you could give our readers?

No matter what a misguided doctor or a frustrated friend might tell you RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE – there is always hope so long as you hold onto it. Expect that there will be slip-ups in recovery, forgive yourself for these, get up and keep pushing forward. Know that you are not defined by your eating disorder.  That’s important.  Who you are as a person is beautiful, unique and infinitely precious – your ED is something that affects you, something you do, not something you are. Reach out for support, whether you do it online or in real life – reach out and break the silence ED creates – its a step towards freedom.

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