‘No, nothing was wrong with my food. Something was wrong with me.’

Sometimes when I feel as though everything’s getting too much, I like to remind myself of how far I’ve come in my past.

I mean the big achievements. The big things that I’ve overcome already in my life.

The things that at the time felt impossible.The things that I was sure would kill me, but that I eventually wiped out myself before they had the chance.

Anxiety feels impossible to manage all the bloody time and sometimes (a lot of the time!) any hope I have to overcome it drains from me so quickly. I just want to give up and admit that this is it, this is my life.

But strangely, I’m in a unique position – and advantaged in some ways – because I’ve overcome another anxiety disorder already in my life.

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In the summer of 2009, I was seventeen and quickly becoming incredibly ill.

Out of absolutely nowhere, I’d developed a fear of choking.

By the time I turned eighteen four months later, I was just a skeleton of the person I was before. I dropped a couple of stone in weight and developed an eating disorder because my anxiety prevented me from eating anything solid.

I was so scared every single day to eat anything. I remember a friend of mine trying to force a biscuit down me because I hadn’t eaten anything for a long time, but I couldn’t do it.

Everywhere I went I got comments on how ill I looked making me feel even more anxious and self-conscious about my problem. Even from waiters in restaurants that would take away my food and say something along the lines of ‘was something wrong with your food?’ or ‘maybe a children’s portion for you next time, hey!’.

Everyone and everything was drawing attention to it.

My brain stopped functioning and it affected my ability to drive my car safely. I’d completely forget how to break and my reactions were slow.

My BMI was 15.2 and at 5 ft 7 I looked like I could fall over at any moment. My skin looked pale and my cheek bones were harsh. My body looked like that of a young girl, with every curve disappearing.

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I really thought this was my life forever. I thought I was destined to live in fear and bad health until it inevitably sometime soon would take my life.

But then, I packed up my bags in the February and moved to Canada…

I didn’t really know why I was going or what to expect. I went to live with family that I didn’t even know. But it was the best thing I ever did.

From almost the minute I landed in Toronto my big Greek family were trying to fatten me up.

I left Canada six months later after having gained two and a half stone, and I’ve never felt that intense anxiety about eating again.

It’s still there under the surface. When I order food in restaurants I analyse the menu for what I consider a threat, and my stomach has never returned to the size it once was. I eat my food incredibly slowly now, and I still get self-conscious in restaurants when I don’t finish my food; placing a napkin over my plate to avoid the comments.

But other than that, I’m fine. I eat a normal amount every day and have no real issues with food or anxiety relating to it.

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I overcame it. I overcame something that seemed impossible and was taking my life away from me.

And that’s amazing!

Occasionally it’s nice to remind myself of that and keep moving forward. It’s good to recognise that my agoraphobia really doesn’t stand a chance against me.

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24 thoughts on “‘No, nothing was wrong with my food. Something was wrong with me.’

  1. everywordyousay says:

    Damnit, seriously girl you make me just want to give you the biggest hug! I thought I couldn’t find you any more inspirational, but here you go again! I just want to cheer you on everytime something goes right for you and you overcome something, I don’t know why but in the short time I’ve been following your blog you just seem like such a kind and sweet person. I hope you get everything you want in life x

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Leslie says:

    That’s so amazing Lauren. You’ve already beaten something that hard? I know it never goes completely away, but you beat the crap out of it and it’s probably not likely to darken your doorway again. You are very determined and you are an excellent role model. It doesn’t always have to be successes that determine our role models but the earnestness with which they try, try and try again

    Like

  3. hockeytayler says:

    Inspirational! I have to do this as well. Remind myself what I’ve beaten in the past, so whatever I’m facing in the present seems small. Congratulations on beating one thing and beginning to on another. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GenTalks says:

    As a sufferer of OCD, this sounds to me strongly related. I used to obsessively spit because I feared I had been poisoned when I touched a bottle of cleaner or some other known toxic item. My symptoms have varied widely over the years, and your obsession with choking sounds all too familiar. Glad you could overcome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      I would never claim to have OCD myself, but I do definitely have similar tenancies you’re right. For example, even now, I wipe my glass/bottle whenever I drink from it to remove the saliva. It’s ridiculous but I can’t not do it. Most people wouldn’t even notice because I do it so subtly. I manage to kiss my boyfriend though so it’s not even slightly logical haha. I’m glad that you were able to say ‘used to!’ ☺

      Liked by 2 people

      • GenTalks says:

        Thank You! It wasn’t until my obsessions (OCD sufferers are almost always aware of how irrational their obsessions are) reached near psychosis that I began to drink to deal. I was then diagnosed with secondary alcoholism. And Finally(!) I was placed on Luvox in combination with Topamax, which ended up being a winning solution. Until that point, I had been on nearly every other SSRI and anti-anxiety medication out there with only minimal results. Thankfully, for two years now, I have been well with only a few hiccups.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. a bold perch says:

    We need to remember what we have overcome in life a lot more than what is wrong now. I have overcome major depression, divorce, and anxiety in the past four years. I am glad you dug deep and faced one of your fears.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jennymarie4 says:

    This sounds so scary. And you overcame it! Lauren, you’re such a strong person. I feel like whatever comes to knock you down, you’re going to knock it right back over! You’re so right… the agoraphobia does not stand a chance against you!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Magpie says:

    Youre beautiful inside & out and yes you will beat the agraphobia! This is coming from someone who has been where you are, it got me, the panic attacks etc. i dont need to tell you how it feels. i stayed within the confines of my house for a year, this was in my 20s. What brought it on? multiple things, no one thing was enough, a break in, bullied at work, an armed robbery and finally a stalker. ok these are hugely stressful events but sometimes theres no reason. Anyway i moved, i decided i needed a change and that worked for me, it was like being set free, it wasnt easy but it worked. Youll find one day youre just ok about stuff, something will change but you know this.
    I have had set backs over the years, i got into an abusive relationship which amost pushed me back into that place, im still on my road to recovery but i am getting there and i recognised the pattern and i was armed with the skills to overcome it this time, you will too. Youre an amazingly resiliant soul, GO YOU! You will win! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Antoinette&Curt says:

    Beautiful post. I think you have the right mindset of focusing on the things you have done and achieved as we very often think of where we fall short. I could only imagine the pain you have endured with something people take so much for granted. Continue to fight as I know too what it is like to suffer. All the best

    Like

  9. lifeofmiblog says:

    Another cat out the box! Great post and great insight. My only eating disorder is wanting to eat everything on the planet!! Still I have watched so many struggle with this one and beating it takes real resolve and strength…well done Lauren

    Like

  10. mindstrippedbare says:

    That was really inspirational ! I used to be in the danger zone bridging to where you were, and even then I found it incredibly hard to change my mindset and just eat happily and normally. I commend you for that – thanks for sharing such a personal account. Go on fighting, congratulations on how far you’ve gotten yet 🙂

    Like

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