By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN has beaten the anorexia demons that left her hospitalised in a critical condition and unable to walk up stairs after she developed poor body image as a child.
Writer and mental health advocate, Amanda Martin (21), from Mount Vernon, New York, USA, became unhappy with her body when she was just seven-years-old. By the time she was 17, Amanda had a severe case of anorexia which saw her exercise everyday and count every single calorie she consumed as she lived off a mostly liquid diet.
At first, Amanda felt powerful and in control of her life thanks to starving herself but soon found herself withdrawing from her friends and she stopped going to school. At her lowest, she weighed just 7st 12lbs and was a UK size zero.
Realising she was close to dying, Amanda decided to overcome her eating disorder and is now a healthy 10st and UK size 8.
“I suffered from the age of seventeen up until the age of twenty-one, so roughly five years. It started because at that point in time I felt I had no control over things in my life and mix that feeling of not being in control with my horrible anxiety and that’s how it started,” she said.
“I figured since I couldn’t control any aspect of my life at that point I could control what I eat or didn’t eat. My life changed forever the day I decided not to eat.
“While suffering from anorexia at first I felt powerful. It was like I was on drugs and starving myself was my fix. Once I got used to the hunger pains and other side effects I felt in control and great. But as time went on that changed.
“I started to feel isolated. I stopped going out with friends and stopped going to school because of how sick I was. As the years passed, I noticed how it started to affect my mother and brother and that caused me a lot of pain.
“Of course, at first when anyone tried to help me I would yell and say they had no idea what they were talking about so denial definitely came about. Then I didn’t feel in control anymore, my anorexia was.
“What made me decide to want to overcome my anorexia was simply the fact I had come so close to dying. When I was seventeen I was admitted to the hospital in critical condition and again at nineteen, I spent some time back in the hospital and four months at a treatment facility because I knew if I didn’t I was going to die.
“Everyone around me told me that, so my will to live was stronger than me feeding into my anorexia.
“Currently although months in recovery, I won’t sugar coat how I feel; it’s tough. The thoughts always seem to still linger, I just don’t act on them.
“I feel healthier and happier for sure. But every day is still a battle because it really never goes away you just learn how to cope with living with an eating disorder.”
Amanda has 10.3K followers on Instagram and has helped others by sharing her journey. She follows a vegetarian diet but doesn’t deny herself the odd cheat day. Amanda said that becoming weight restored was the most challenging part of recovery.
“The most difficult part for me about recovery was definitely getting weight restored and actually staying in treatment. I would cry so much over eating food and my weight gain that I wanted to just quit and go home, but I knew if I did I would die,” she said.
“My stomach had shrank so much that it took a little over six months for the refeeding process to not cause bloating and pain. I developed some other digestive issues from that as well. Seeing the numbers go up on the scale made me cry but I knew it had to get done.
“Overcoming anorexia has changed my life in a lot of ways. I am so blessed to be alive and get a second chance at life. I have helped countless people along the way with their eating disorders simply by sharing mine and that has felt amazing.
“Although I have done some damage from years of abusing my body so that part isn’t all that great, but being alive is. It made me see really how short life is and how I can overcome anything if I set my mind to it.”
Amanda’s mum and twin brother are proud of her recovery and she shared her advice to others:
“My mum now actually hugs me, before she wouldn’t because all she felt were ribs and bones and it made her upset. My brother is so happy as well as my friends,” she added.
“The best piece of advice I would give to someone who was in the same situation as me is to definitely tell someone you are struggling. Don’t feel as though you aren’t ‘sick’ enough or you think you can ‘control’ it because you can’t.
“Also get into treatment as soon as possible because it will save your life.
“I hope to whoever is reading this that they can eventually recover and know that every single one of you guys are so beautiful and full of potential.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/mandyyjoan