The last thing I expected from my anorexia was that it would bring me something good. After all, it had ruined my health and who I was, and the worst of all was the impact it had had on other people — people I love. I was right not to expect anything from my anorexia, but I was wrong to underestimate myself, my ambitions, and my desire to help other people, incited precisely by the thing I despised most.
The first step
I realised that something was “wrong” with me in 2007, and it didn’t take me long to figure out I had an eating disorder. Back then, it was not necessarily a bad thing to me. After all, I could stop any day, couldn’t I? Yet it took another two years before the true turning point came. That’s when I learned that my biggest problems were my perfectionism, my iron discipline, and being such a control freak. These were the main reasons why I was capable of eating so little and exercising so much — why not reverse it and use these “bad” traits and turn them into something positive?
This way of thinking became part of my philosophy for recovery, and it worked: I didn’t need treatment in an eating disorder clinic any more when the day came. I continued to learn more about my disorder and how badly it is understood, because it is so complicated and because it is such a small world. It’s a world that usually only exists for the person with the eating disorder, and it’s a world you don’t talk about. You read about it, but you don’t really know about it. We want to be thin and that’s why we’re starving ourselves. That’s it.
What I want
These observations frustrated and infuriated me, because it was not the truth. That’s when I realised that I wanted to do something with my story, to get it out there so I could hopefully help other people. I wanted to inspire other people with an ED and show them that there are so many different ways to recover from it. I wanted to help people who know someone with an eating disorder; help them understand what that world could look like and how my train of thought worked. I wanted it to become a subject that we could talk about.
And that’s what I’ve been working on for two and a half years now. This ambition, sparked by my anorexia, led to a clear purpose and even to a dream, which came true when I launched Beauty Is Not a Number. It has given me the opportunity to do something good with something that was so bad. It has defined who I am now, and I can only be proud of that.
So whenever something bad happens, we should act like we always do in these situations: get upset, cry, scream, eat chocolate or whatever works. The more emotions, the better, because then it will bother us, make us think about it all the time, make us want to change something, define us. And that’s when we should act. Do it. Change it. Turn something bad into something good.