By Rebecca Drew
MEET the incredible young woman who has beaten the anorexia which ‘stole her life’ and would see her exercise excessively for SEVEN-HOURS a day.
Student, Hannah Durbin (21) from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA started her battle with anorexia when she was just 16 after death of a family member in order to regain some control over her life.
At the height of her suffering, Hannah would consume just 800-calories a day and did three-hours of track, followed by another three-hours of gymnastics and spent an hour on her cross-trainer before bed. At 5ft 7”, Hannah weighed less than 7st and was a UK size zero but roll forward four-years and she’s a super-healthy 10st 5lbs and a UK size 10.
“I began my battle with anorexia in high school at the age of sixteen. It was during this year that I had experienced traumatic loss in nearly all aspects of my life, including the heart-breaking death of a beloved family member that sent me over the edge,” said Hannah.
“When my life started to spin out of control due to the pain of loss and separation from the people who mattered most to me in this life, I clung to the one thing I knew how to fully control – my food. But, little did I know that this addiction to control would be the kiss of death for me over the next four-years.
“Anorexia stole my life away from me – every memory and every moment was tainted by the demon living inside of my head. Each morning I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders.
“The mere act of opening my eyes to a new day seemed nearly impossible. The physical exhaustion, mental warfare and emotional breakdowns I dealt with on a daily basis were enough to send me off the deep end with no desire of ever re-discovering my true self.
“I surrendered to the illness and let it take over my mind, body and soul. I was a rag doll to the demon within me.
“Anorexia swallowed me alive without hesitation or remorse. I was a puppet to this demon’s commands. He was ruthless and relentless. And the scariest part of all – I couldn’t escape him.
“My deteriorating body was begging for a second chance – begging for me to save it from the living hell I put it through day in and day out.
“An eating disorder is not a choice, or an extreme diet. It is not a chase for aesthetic perfection or breath-taking beauty.”
Since overcoming anorexia, Hannah has learnt to love herself for who she is and says she will embrace her life-long recovery, but admits the fear of the unknown was a daunting prospect at the start. She shares her story on her website, www.healthyhappyhannah.com.
“I am today, standing before you as a survivor. I refuse to put my life back into the hands of someone else. I am living, breathing and thriving in this beautiful world as a soldier,” she explained.
“I was done going through the motions of life without experiencing any of the joy that comes along with it. I needed to fight.
“This journey was when I truly became a warrior. Those are the days that defined me. I grew and changed in a way that I never knew was within the realm of possibility.
“I found myself, and fell in love with the girl that I found. Today, and everyday, I appreciate this girl and love each and every part of her. I am so unbelievably proud of who I am because I worked my ass off to get here.
“The release of my tight grip on the familiarity of my eating disorder the most terrifying thing I will face in this world, but it was vital to my survival.
“This battle is far from over, but I promise to never ever give up the fight. Recovery is a life-long road that I must embrace, but it is a part of my life I would never trade. It has taught me the meaning of strength, acceptance and inner peace.
“It was the fear of the unknown that shook me to my core. Any time you choose to grow, you’re going to lose something. You’re losing what you’ve been so desperately hanging onto. You’re losing the habits that you’re comfortable with. “
Hannah describes her family as being relieved when they see how far she has come and wants to encourage others to not stay chained to a life living with an eating disorder.
“The sense of relief I can see in eyes of my loved ones is unlike anything I have ever experienced. My family reminds me on a daily occasion of their pride and admiration for my continual progress,” she added.
“My friends claim that my rediscovered smile is contagious, and that my recovery has inspired them to overcome their internal battles.
“I constantly reminded myself in the midst of my recovery to take a step back and reflect on what is truly important to me in my life – my family, friends, passions, goals, relationships, and so many more.
“Nowhere on that list do I hold my weight or size as a priority, because those aspects of my life are not the source of my happiness or the solution to any of my problems. Our bodies are our outer shells, but they do not have the ability to provide love, peace or happiness.
“Lastly, my biggest piece of advice is to make yourself uncomfortable. Remaining in your comfort zone will not lead to any type of progress. Do things that scare you, eat things that make you nervous, try new coping skills, skip a day at the gym, wear a new outfit you’ve been afraid to put on, be spontaneous.
“Do not allow your eating disorder to dictate what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because those terms are so meaningless until we put meaning behind them.
“Work to discover what you love about yourself as a person, beyond your physical outer shell. That is where your true value lies.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/healthy_happy_hannah