Am I a fake anorexic?

Hope Virgo shares her story of recovery and how she's learned to live a healthy life after anorexia.

The Mix Staff

When I was 13 years old I met someone. She was fantastic. She gave me the reassurance I needed to get through every single day. She was just what I needed and I loved how she made me feel.

My new friend was Anorexia. My relationship with Anorexia started off as a love affair. That exhilarating feeling you get at the start of a relationship. When I missed meals I felt like a gold medal winner and it was amazing. She brought me in closer and closer, praising me when I limited my food intake even more. Praised me for coming up with new tricks to get away with not eating. I needed her. I needed someone to take away the pain, the hurt and the guilt I had been left with after I was sexually abused. Anorexia did just this. I could fully rely on her like I had never been able to rely on anyone else before. Everyone else would eventually hurt me, but not Anorexia.

We got closer and closer over the next four years. I would lay awake at night listening to my parents argue letting Anorexia distract me. I loved that distraction she provided from the reality of everyday life.

Little did I know that this love affair would soon come to an end. Little did I know that our sweet romance would soon became a bittersweet relationship fuelled with hate and arguments. It all happened so fast.

Fast forward six months and you will find me crouched, naked on the bathroom floor summoning up every single bit of energy to make myself sick, because I hadn’t had the energy to argue with my parents at a mealtime. Those nights were so dark, battling to make my anorexia happy. Working out for hours in my room, and finally crawling in to bed in the early hours of the morning smelling of sweat and vomit wishing that I would never ever wake up.

I must have been a good Anorexic to get as skinny as I did. But is it really an achievement that shortly after those dark nights my heart nearly stopped and I was admitted to a mental health hospital? Living in a mental health hospital for a year when you are 17 years old… seriously is that a good thing? Had I succeeded in life?

After a year in hospital, I was well enough to be discharged. I had learnt about the importance of eating, had so much therapy and learnt to talk about how I felt. I was ready to take on the next stages of my life. As I left hospital for the final time I was terrified. Terrified of what the future held, and terrified that anorexia would come back.

Am I a fake anorexic because I am a healthy weight, and eat healthy meals? Am I a fake anorexic because I have managed my recovery pretty much ever since my discharge?


But this is something that I struggle with from time to time. And something that really hit home to me in 2016 when I relapsed. Having been well for 10 years I thought I was nearly “cured” but little did I know after my Grandma passed away, anorexia would be there, waiting on the side lines waiting to suck me back in. She seduced me when I was feeling completely lost and weak.

I reached out for help… and was turned away. Turned away because I wasn’t underweight enough. That voice in my head laughed at me, mocked me. Her ridicule told me I was a waste of space, told me that I was a fake, that no one believed me. She laughed at me when I didn’t push myself hard enough telling me I was no good at being anorexic, that I had to try harder for her praise.

It took every ounce of strength in me to recover that second time I got unwell. But I managed it. I managed to shut that voice up in my head. Stop the laughing and the teasing.

It frustrates me that when people think of someone with anorexia they paint a picture in their head of a skeleton. The fact is, not all anorexic people look like that. Anorexia is not just about the weight someone is, or whether they only eat a couple of lettuce leaves a day. No anorexia is so much deeper than that. Anorexia goes beyond weight. It is a mind-set that someone is in. It is this tormenting voice in your head knocking you down, beating you up, stopping you believing in yourself. Anorexia isn’t just about putting on weight to recover but it is about learning to manage the daily battle in your head. It is learning to realise that anorexia is a manipulative voice in your head who doesn’t really care about who you are, but you have the strength to overpower that voice.


About Hope Virgo

Hope is a mental health advocate and author of Stand Tall Little Girl
Connect with Hope on Twitter


Published on 26-Feb-2018