How I Beat Anorexia

How I Beat Anorexia

About a year ago, I made a decision that not only changed, but saved my life.

I committed to healing my shattered soul.

I have been suffering from anorexia nervosa for 14 years.

My childhood had been anything but peaceful. Growing up with a brother who tortured me both mentally and physically every single day of my young life was nothing but hell.

Not knowing how to endure this daily struggle, my mind searched for ways of coping. Around the age of ten, I started to obsess over food, calories and exercise. How much I was eating and how many hours I would have to work out in order to burn the calories were the only concerns worth thinking of from the moment I woke up until I went to bed.

During the next 1.5 decades, I did not have a peaceful moment. Going from one depression to the next, obsessing over the number on my scale, losing all my friends and isolating myself completely resulted in trying to commit suicide at the age of 18.

I made it back up, came back to life step by step, graduated, traveled the world and started going to university. But my anorexia did not go anywhere.

In 2010, I met the man of my dreams, moved to Zurich and got married. I was convinced that my life would be nothing but bliss from now on and that my eating disorder would disappear instantly. I was in love and surely, this was the cure for my illness.

Well, I was wrong. The staccato of thoughts revolving around calories did not subside. The voice of the sergeant inside grew only louder and the orders of how much I was allowed to eat gnawed at me. Why couldn’t my mind just shut up? Why could I not live in the moment or enjoy a simple dinner?

My daily workouts got longer and longer, I started lying to my husband and dramatically increased the amount of laxatives I swallowed every night.

Having been skinny already, I lost even more weight in a very short amount of time. I was so weak, I cried every time I went to the gym, but I could not stop. I had to continue walking down this path towards destruction. After all, hadn’t my brother told me that I didn’t deserve to be happy anyway?

When the agony was almost unbearable however, I cried out for help.

After having had many conversations with different therapists and doctors, I decided that it was best to admit myself to a treatment facility.

So, on March 16th of 2011 I packed my bags and went to a sanatorium near Zurich. This was one of the hardest steps I have ever had to take in my life. I was sick with fear and felt terribly insecure.

I stayed at the sanatorium for 3 months. 3 months that saved my life.

I learned a lot about my illness and about the reasons for having developed it. I learned not to be ashamed of being sick and even started to be proud of myself for having survived my childhood. I started to believe in myself again.

However, the real work began after I came back home. Despite thinking that I had committed to recovery, I was holding on to my eating disorder. I continued to lie and to abuse laxatives throughout my treatment.

At home, I doubted my ability to ever recover fully. If a stay at a treatment facility wouldn’t help, what would?

But I was not willing to give up. I longed for a free and healthy life, a life with emotions, food, children and happiness. A life without feeling empty and depressed. A life full of joy and love. A life that I deserved.

I needed to finally let go and come clean with myself and with my husband. I needed to admit to myself that I was lying and I needed to apologize to having done so to those around me.

On a trip to Monaco, I told my husband about my abuse of laxatives.

I was terrified and ashamed, but also relieved. It was the first time I had said these words out loud. Never before had I told anybody about this dark secret.

This moment was my fresh start, my new beginning. Now that I was honest, I was able to make the right decision. Now, I was able to slowly let go of my eating disorder and make the necessary changes.

I continued to work hard on myself every single day. I started to eat regularly, slowly increasing the size of my portions. I created a plan with my nutritionist and doctors on how to slowly decrease the amount of laxatives I took. By late August of 2010, I was completely free of this horrible addiction.

I began to laugh again, to enjoy life again and I experienced a freedom that I had never felt before. I wake up every day, grateful to be alive and to have been given this second chance. I appreciate the little things like going for a walk or sitting on the couch with my husband just watching a movie without feeling guilty and being restless. I know that I will live the life that I have longed for for so many years.

The journey towards health is a hard one, but also a very rewarding one.

I broke everything I believed about myself down and then completely rebuild my self-worth and self-esteem.

I cannot begin to list all the things that I have learned about myself in those difficult months. At the beginning of my treatment, I was crushed. I felt like I was going to lose myself. Who was I if I did not have an eating disorder? I thought I’d be totally lost. And for a while, I was.

But with every bite I ate, my energy level increased and I was able to think creatively again. I started making lists of all the things I was good at and I was amazed at the amount of characteristics I had overlooked for such a long time. I started to realize that I had a lot of good within me and that I had so much to give.

I began to fall in love with myself, my strength and my weaknesses. I started to embrace my body, a body that is unique with all its faults.

I learned that sometimes you have to let go of everything you have ever known in order to find yourself again.

I achieved a level of intimacy with myself that I never thought possible. For the first time, I truly got to know the real me and I began to understand that it is OK to be just who I am.

Now I know that my eating disorder does not define me. Now I know that I am full of potential. Now I know that I don’t have to disappear in order for this world to be a great place. On the contrary, I know now that I, too, can change the world.

I decided not to go back to university and instead live my life on my own terms. Never again will I let others dictate how my life should look like. Never again will I let others tell me who I am and what I should feel like.

I was reborn and I will use this gift to live a life of greatness. Every. Single. Day.

Which beliefs about yourself did you let go in the past? What have you learned by freeing yourself from false claims or destructive habits?

If you have a friend or a family member who is suffering from anorexia nervosa, bring that loved one of yours to an inpatient anorexia treatment center the soonest possible time before the condition gets any worse.

Photo by Mitya Kuznetsov

Anne - Sophie Reinhardt

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a body-love expert, self-love advocate and the author of The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Body Image. Join her newsletter and receive your free 3-part video series empowering you to accept yourself wholeheartedly.

Latest posts by Anne - Sophie Reinhardt (see all)

26 Comments

  1. thank you…

    Reply
      • Your story is amazing! and so is the webcast…
        I am currently suffering from anorexia and have been for the last 8 years, is there any way i could chat to you about my illness? as i am desperate for some help :( x

        Reply
  2. What a great story…. I too overcame Anorexia and I’m just now trying to come to a place where I’m leaving my life on my own terms. I’m trying to see what that looks like and feels like. I’ve been trying to fit other people’s ideas about me for a long time and it’s time to let that go. Your story is very inspiring and I wish you the very best.

    Reply
  3. Dear Kim, I am so glad to hear you have overcome this illness. I completely understand what you are going through at the moment. I too am trying to live on my own terms and am trying to break free from all the expectations others have. I have been blogging about these issues a lot. I hope you find your way and live your life the way YOU desire it.

    Reply
  4. What an inspiring story, Anne-Sophie. I am so glad to hear you are doing much better. I have been following your blog for a while and I love what you do. You are a very brave and courageous person.
    Although I have never suffered from an eating disorder, I still held on to many bad habits and wasted a lot of time on things I knew were wrong. But I have freed myself from most of these habits and try to live as motivated and productive as possible. I have also overcome a lot of insecurities in the past.

    Reply
  5. hi Anne-Sophie

    Good to meet you here – I think we corresponded via Tiny Buddha a few weeks ago where you shared your story too upon mine sharing of my depression
    I agree. once we open up our dark secrets, it’s much easier to face them and confront the issues
    Kudos to you for battling for so long and congrats for healing! we all fight together. Don’t give up!

    Noch Noch

    Reply
    • Thank you, Noch Noch. And, yes, we talked over at Tiny Buddha.
      It is amazing how much support we find in this online world and you are absolutely right, we all fight together.
      Lots of love,
      Anne-Sophie

      Reply
  6. Thank you so much, Samuel. I am thrilled to hear you have left behind bad habits and I hope you can live each day to the fullest.

    Reply
  7. Thank you for sharing your story it was a great read and encouragement as I struggle myself.

    Reply
    • Dear Janet, thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear that you are struggling too, but there is always hope and if you need any help, I am here for you.

      Reply
  8. Hi Anne,

    I loved reading your inspiring story. I always love when they have a happy ending and wish more stories could have that. I have many issues of unworthness so I always thought the one thing I can control was my body. The last thing I needed was a fat body since I felt so bad about everything else about me. But I am working on changing myself everyday. I also have to do what you did and not let other people dictate my life and “how it suppose to be”. One day I hope to be free of that or else I know I will never be happy. Keep inspiring people Anne, your really doing a great thing and helping so many people Bravo keep it up

    All the best

    Rich

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your comment, Rich.
      Every person is worthy and so are you, no matter your size or weight! It is a learning process, but if you keep telling yourself positive things, you will be able to make a change! I believe in you!

      Reply
  9. Reading your article is inspirational. I had anorexia when I was 13. Some years it got better, but these recent few years, it has morphed into binge-eating/bulimia. I have gained back the weight that I lost, and slightly more. I am still trying to find a balance in between – it is very difficult when you have been through both ends of the extremes. I am 22 years old this year, about to graduate with a diploma, and have been doing a lot of introspection and thinking about the past and future lately. Eating disorder had screwed up much of my social life and grades. I do not want it to control my life forever. I have used it, along with reading, exercising, music, art, etcetc. as a form of escapism for so long that I really want to live a normal and productive life again. I do want to get a proper career, achieve financial stability, find someone whom I can live with, start a family and raise healthy and happy kids in future. Hope that one day I will be able to completely overcome it like you! :)

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your comment, Fion.
      I am sorry to hear what you have been through and I can relate to so many things you write (really, it is like you took a look inside my mind). I strongly believe that you can recover too. It takes time, especially when you have been suffering for so long, but it is certainly a process that will bring you closer to yourself and it’ll make you so much stronger. If you need someone you can confide in, someone who is there to help you, you can always email me. I am here for you.
      lots of love,
      Anne-Sophie

      Reply
  10. Thank you for your sharing your story. For years, I denied I had a problem with food, body image, numbers on the scale, etc….but reading your article was like I wrote it myself. I never mastered where it was all coming from, as you did. I could try to put the puzzle together, but I’m just afraid to go ‘back’ there. I’ve already come so far on my own….
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story of fear turned to strength. Keep going. Be well!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment! It’s a sign of a lot of strength and courage to have come so far without any help, I am proud of you and I wish you all the best for the future. I truly hope that you will find a way to completely let go of all your issues. xoxo

      Reply
  11. Thank you for this. You are an inspiration, both for battling and overcoming this sickness, and for sharing this with the world to know and to learn from. I have also struggled with body image issues and eating disorders, mine is on and off but going on four years now, constantly I want to be rid of it.. but somehow it remains a part of me (a part that others don’t know). I just recently found this blog and I’m going to incorporate it into each day, hoping this will help me learn and stick with what is good for me, to finally live the way I’m meant to.. the way we are all meant to.. in freedom and true peace.

    Reply
    • Hi Andie,

      thank you for your comment. Admitting that you have a problem and saying that you won’t to get rid of your body image issues and eating disorders is a huge and important first step! I am proud of you.
      You can get healthy again, it takes a lot of work and a good support system, but it is absolutely doable. I did and so can you. If you need someone to confide in, I am always here for you.

      Lots of love and I really hope you can fight against your illness.

      Reply
  12. Thank you so much for your story, it is truly inspiring and I hope someday that I can be at the place you are at now. I have suffered with anorexia for years now (the first few years i didnt even know it cuz i denied it in my head that my actions were perfectly normal). Last year I finally got help and I was in a good place for awhile; however, I have relapsed and desperately am trying to keep it a secret. I am counting calories like crazy and rounding up my calories like crazy, exercising, and throwing up. I know what I am doing is wrong but “ED” is in my head again and i cant get that screaming voice inside my head to shut up….I cant or should I say am having difficulty to eat anything. I need someone to talk to who has been through this cuz all my friends and family say is “your not fat” or “you look great stop stressing” or “your letting anorexia back into your life. Im going to take you to the doctors” all of these comments sound like they are irritated at me too… They just dont understand what I am truly going through.

    Reply
    • Hi Holly, thanks for your honesty here. I think this is the first step towards getting better. Are you getting professional help?

      Reply
  13. Hi I have suffered from an eating disorder since I was 14. I am now 33. This battle is the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. I have three beautiful children, 2 girls and 1 boy. They are still young but I know eventually the things I do and say are going to have a severe effect on them. ED has ruined many of the things in my life that I wanted and cannot take back. I am very sick right now and have been to an inpatient treatment facility for thirty days and then shortly after moving to a new state and leaving everthing I ended up in a hospital for another 10 days. leaving my children home with their Dad. I am done trying and feel hopeless. My past haunts me and I am afraid of what the future holds for my family. Please help me understand how to be strong again.

    Reply
    • Hi Dani, I am really sorry to hear how much you’re struggling. But there’s always hope. There’s always a way out – no matter how long you’ve been struggling and how dark everything may seem right now. It’s not easy, but it seems like you’re fighting and that you want out. The hardest part is the beginning, then it does get better. You say you have beautiful children, so there’s something so positive in your life, something to fight for – even when you don’t want to fight for yourself right now. I’m here for you if you like. You can send me an email and there’s tons of help on my website. xxx

      Reply
  14. Dear Anne,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for helping anorexia sufferers with your inspirational story. My best friend recently confessed to me that she has anorexia. I try my best to support her but I still feel helpless. Is there anything I can do at all to help her recover?

    Reply
  15. Thank you for sharing your story Anne-Sophie.
    I’ve been struggeling with anorexia and later bulimia for the past 4 years and have recently started therapy. Your story is very inspiring and gives me hope. I often think that I’ll never be able to accept me the way I am and there are many nights where I still cry myself to sleep, because of the weight I’m gaining. My depression is getting better and I’m willing to fight, but the journey I’ve started is a long one. I believe that one day I’ll be able to love myself just the way I am and that I’ll be able to eat what I want.
    I want to be happy again!
    Even though I am eating at least two meals a day, it’s very hard and I hate myself more and more with every bite I take.
    Do you have any advice on how it will be easier to eat or how I can cope with the anorexic voice?

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>