Fun fact, when I started blogging I was originally going to go under a different name. I knew how personal my blog would become and felt too intimidated by people in my life knowing what I wrote about (like seriously, very few people knew I suffered from anorexia and I had every intention to keep it hidden). Instead of going by my first name, I was going to go by my middle name, Faith.
Of course here we are a year later and I’m not Faith. Truth be told I thought it was a bit cheesy if I was going to be sharing my faith in God and went by the name Faith as well. So I stuck with my own name and hoped that people who knew me wouldn’t stumble across my blog. I wasn’t ashamed of my faith (I’d happily talk to anyone about it) but I was ashamed of the eating disorder I also spoke about.
For those of you who don’t know I’ve suffered with anorexia for 2 years now, but despite blogging about it regularly, I don’t think I’ve ever told the full story. However, today I’m going to change that.
The other week I was back at New Wine United and serving on team again. It was an incredible week, I met some great people, had so much fun, got to help young people and see all the great things that God was doing that week. During that week something quite incredible happened to me. I didn’t blog about it straight away when I got home as I was still trying to process what had happened myself and I wanted to make sure it was real and just didn’t happen in the hype of the moment. But it’s been over a week since it happened nor has it stopped when I got home, so now feels like a good time to share it with you all.
I’m not sure how I ended up going to see my doctor about my eating habits, I’m not sure who or what tipped me over the edge to seek help, but somehow I did. However, I can’t say that it was helpful. I was having problems eating and knew that it was getting out of control, but the doctor I spoke to didn’t take it seriously. I was 17 at the time but it took several more visits for them to take me seriously. One of the main reasons was that my weight wasn’t really that low. People seem to forget an eating disorder is a mental illness and now a physical one.
During this time I went to New Wine United with our church. It was there that I opened up to a team member about how I didn’t want to eat. She was a star and prayed with me through the week and you want to know something? The eating disorder backed off. Did it go? Not exactly but for about a week afterwards I was in control, the heaviness in my heart was still there but it was manageable. But it didn’t stay that way forever, a week later it came back.
As a newish Christian I was upset about it, I couldn’t understand why God had healed me and then let it come back and I was vocal about this… a lot and I always had the same anser. God can and will take away the eating disorder but not yet, he had so much more to teach me through it first.
Fast forward a few months and I got refered to CAMHS (as I was under 18) but that wasn’t helpful either, if anything they made me worse. The referral there meant that I sat down and had an ‘interview’ with two clinical psychologists. By the time of the referral I had lost more weight. The process was that I was also saw by a nurse who took basic measurements like height, weight, blood pressure ect and threw the word anorexia around a lot. I think things were going fine untill the nurse came in. I was initially told by her that without help I’d be in hospital within two weeks, things weren’t looking good. This then lead onto further health questions where I mentioned I still had my period (something that stops when your weight drops too low) but they didn’t belive me. It took a while but I managed to convince them that somehow my body was still functioning. Sadly this pice of information changed everything.
Suddenly I went from being two weeks away from hospital to not needing help because I wasn’t a low enough weight and I was healthy. Thankfully my mum had dealing with CAMHS as part of her job so had sent me in with a leaflet for a counseling service near me to show to them.
A week later I got a call and letter saying they weren’t going to accept me under the service to receive help. Looking back I’m very thankful of this, in the week after I had spent more time reasurching CAMHS and wasn’t happy with what I was seeing. Sadly the mental health services are too streched to offer help. But I had that leaflet off my mum for the service. I was refered through my college and have been with that service ever since.
Sadly by that point the damage was already done.
I came away from the referral with CAMHS very damaged. I believed I was unworthy of help and that I wasn’t sick enough to receive help. But most importantly I belived I could carry on losing weight because I had taken away from that meeting that I was too fat.
Weeks became months, months became half a year and soon a year had come and go, I carried on losing weight and that promise from God that the anorexia would go slipped away.
I’m hoping you would have read my last post and if not I’m going to ask that you quickly clink on the link (HERE) and read it, it’s not long. But it will help you understand the next part.
For those who are following my journey you’re going to know that I’ve been trying to recover. I openly talk about recovery on here and how that looks, the challenges I face, my successes and failures. The whole purpose of this is that I want to show others how recovery with God at your side is possible. But I’ve been missing out one important pice of that equation, GOD.
It sounds stupid but out of a deadly illness quite a lot of good has come out of it. I started this blog and even got to speak at the filling station and share my testimony. I now understand that this was selective of MY recovery and NOT everyone elses. God promised me he’d teach me things through the anorexia and that was part of him doing exactly that. The opportunity that came out of anorexia are unique to my recovery and my individual relationship with God, I am yet to meet another christian that had those opertunitys in recovery as they tend to come afterwards. If you are recovering do not hold off a life of being free because you want God to open up opportunity. Recover, then the opertunitys might come.
I’ve had to learn a lot of painful lessons through my recovery and one of those lessons was to go back to God again. I’d been talking to you guys about God and recovery but I was so far away from God in so many different ways. I’d lost site of what Jesus did for me by doing on the cross. I believed that an eating disorder was unforgivable. I’d hide from God and at night would cower under my blanket convincing myself (unsuccessfully) that God wouldn’t be able to see me from under there.
Last year when I was at New wine again and serving on team I spent the week punishing myself. I didn’t tell people about the anorexia, I felt too ashamed too, but I also refused to let myself rest. I tought that God was angry enough at me for the eating disorder and if I stopped serving him and took a break that week, he’d be even more angry at me. I am thankful for the vibe team, my boyfriend and the medical team for doing the right thing and very firmly insisting I took a day off.
The amount of lies I believed about God caused me to stumble away and not be in His presence for more than a few seconds. As a result, recovering has been hard, very hard.
So what changed and why am I talking about this today?
Well I was at New Wine once again. I was serving on Flava team what was slightly less loud than Vibe. I had two incredible team leaders, a really caring team (all of which I had last year) and the mindset that I did not need ministering to. I was there to serve and I didn’t want God to do anything with me.
Of course the complete opposite happened.
I’ve spoken about being in a relationship with an incredible person several times and this week was really the icing on the cake with them. I don’t know about you but I can belive if God is gracious enough to let a miracle happen in someone elses life, but struggle to belive that one will ever happen in my own. So when I was told “I promise by the end of the week you’ll be healed of the eating disorder” by the person I trusted the most, I can’t say I was ecstatic. I truly believed that I was too far gone to ever be free, let alone God taking it away. But despite my unbelief, they prayed for me every night that I’d be free of it.
I think one very important thing to point out is that I was skeptical about it. I was internally a bit upset that they’d promise something that they knew I was really struggling with. I knew I couldn’t handle the disappointment and loss of trust in them when it didn’t happen. Yet at the same time, I was too far gone to even attempt to recover in that week so they didn’t lose their faith when God didn’t answer their prayers.
Things weren’t looking good very early on, we’d had safeguarding training on the Sunday morning what had triggered a tidal wave of painful emotions and memories. The first person I prayed with on an evening told me about them having such a bad year and all the truly awful things that happened to them, it brought up even more unwelcome emotions for me. I’d worked in the cafe on an evening and handling food was really difficult too. Finally things came to ahead on the Tuesday.
I ended up talking to one of the team pastors about what was going on and she said something that was new to me. It was ok to be angry at God. In all of my time as a Christian I’d never once allowed myself to be angry with God, after all he’d made me and obviously had a plan for me. But there I was being told it was ok to be angry, and I was given the space to openly voice those angers.
Turns out it wasn’t anger I was repressing but a whole lot of pain. The past few years have been the most painful and difficult ones of my life so far and not once had I been honest with God about those pains. I expected to shout at God, to swear, to blame him for everything that had happened. I didn’t expect to burst out in tears, sobbing for him to take the anorexia away. But that’s exactly what I did.
It took me a while to compose myself, but eventually I joined everyone else in the evening celebration. I sat at the back for the bit but managed to mix in with the crowd when worship began. But unlike everyone who was bouncing around, I wanted to have a conversation. So I knelt down and just talked to Jesus and something amazing happened.
I asked him to take the anorexia away and without missing a beat an image of the cross appeared in my mind, I was looking up at it. Then as clear as day the words “I already have.” came to me.
That’s when it really struck me. I’d reached a point of recovery through counselling and help that I was on the edge of recovery, but the shame of the eating disorder was still very much latched onto me. There were only these few threads that were stopping me for a life of freedom, but Jesus had already taken it all away on the cross.
It was a really good Jesus encounter, but I didn’t dweal on it massively as the rest of the evening continued. I was happy and felt like something had physically shifted in me, I felt lighter and free and in a sleepy haze I mentioned it to my boyfriend as they were praying for me as I was ready to sleep. I nodded off before I heard their response though.
One thing that I’ve had to deal with is waking up every morning in pain. I find that if I don’t eat enough the day before I will wake up in an awful lot of pain in my stomach, I’m not sure if this is common in suffers of anorexia. But the morning after I woke up in no pain, despite not eating well the day before.
Not only did I wake up without pain but I ate breakfast without problems, then I ate lunch, then tea. I went a day without any anorexic tendency. Then on that same evening I had another encounter with Jesus where I was reminded of that promise from two years back. That I’d be healed of the eating disorder, but I had so much to learn. I’d forgotten that promise.
It’s been 14 days since I was told that Jesus had already taken it away with the cross.
I’ve been free of anorexia for two weeks guys.
14 whole days!
No tendencys, no toxic thoughts, no calorie counting, nothing. Nor have I experienced any body dismorphia. I’ve been avoiding mirrors because I keep tearing up when I see my body, it looks like its dying.
I’ve been eating enough to start gaining a bit of weight and by that I mean I’ve experienced major bloating. But I haven’t feared it, I’ve welcomed it as it means I’ll soon no longer be able to see my ribs, my spine, my pelvis.
I’ve enjoyed eating.
I thought it was best I gave it a little while before I told you guys here. I was worried that I was just riding on the hype of New Wine, that God didn’t heal me. But I’ve eaten at home, at work, at my dads house, in town. I’ve once again been faced with a very painful situation at home as soon as I got back from New Wine, a situation where I’d turn instantly to restricting to gain control. But I haven’t, I’ve been eating ‘normally’.
Guys, I think I’m free of anorexia.
In the two years where I’ve been fighting anorexia I’ve never gone longer than 5 days eating normally, but even then I exercised relentlessly. This hasn’t happened before.
I don’t want to be thin, I don’t want to be sick, I want to live a life free and I am.
But lets talk about faith real quick.
Remember how it was my boyfriend who had the confidence that God would set me free that week and not me? Well I think it was because of their faith that I was set free, that they had the confidence in God. Like I said earlier, I was slightly upset that they were promising something so big. Even then I didn’t have it in me to fake my recovery to stop their faith from being knocked when God didn’t do it. But still they prayed with me every night.
Ever heard the phrase faith can move mountains?
Well anorexia was my mountain, it was big, unmoving and just impossible to climb. But God moved it and it was through their faith that there was the opportunity for God to work in me.
I’m giving all the glory and praise to God for freeing me, but I just want to highlight the importance of faith in it. If it wasn’t for their faith I doubt I would have been in a place with God that he could work in me. I’m not too sure where they heard it from, but throughout the week they said to me several times that faith was spelt R.I.S.K and boy they were right.
Faith really can move mountains.
I’m learning that my recovery doesn’t look like the ‘normal’ one (even though there is no such thing as a normal recovery).
I’ve learnt that God can heal anorexia, but don’t use that as an excuse not to seek help. I sought counselling (what was key to getting me to a point of recovery) and God helped me with the final push. So if you’re struggling please seek medical help just as much as you seek God’s help. But what ever you do, don’t take your eyes off what Jesus did for you on the cross.
Even if you’re not struggling with anorexia, I feel like I can still talk to you through what’s happened within the last two weeks. God made me a promise two years ago, maybe he’s made you one too. But maybe, like me it’s been a while. You’ve lost hope of that promise or even you were like me and you’ve forgotten it, tossed it to the corner of your mind so you don’t have to deal with the hurt of it not happening.
I just want to encourage you to keep going, keep hoping and keep praying. Don’t forget.
But most importantly, have faith.