"Why I wont let ANOREXIA rule my life"

Thinking back to my 16-year-old self is like looking at a stranger who walks past me in the street. I am now about to turn 22, yes, anorexia and depression still define a huge segment of my life but I battle with them every day and I am stronger than the demon that lives inside my head. 

I was 18 and a 'happy' teenager. My boyfriend was a 'permanent' fixture in my life. I met him when I was 13, our relationship wasn't healthy as I would soon find out. I didn't exercise because I didn't want to, but I reached a point where I felt so much pressure to move my body and look a certain way. Those around me encouraged me to start going for walks, running, exercising. I had access to exercise machines at home which soon began to control my days.

At this time I also became involved in the world of Instagram and vegan 'clean eating' pages. What I didn't know at this time was that I had, and have an addictive personality and seek approval for everything I do. I began to copy the diets and lives of others, cut out everything until I had nothing left to remove from my diet apart from vegetables. Exercise became an addiction, morning and night, hours and hours, my brain wouldn't let me stop until I had exceeded the calories I aimed to burn. 

I was diagnosed with depression and anorexia, two labels that I am still learning to accept. I received help through the NHS but the one thing that has helped me most is removing those people from my life who were not healthy. Time is the biggest healer and those you surround yourself with impact on your mindset and wellbeing hugely. 

As mentioned I am about to turn 22 and I still struggle with food and exercise. To the outside world I have an abundance of intolerances to food but, honestly, I don't know if I am intolerant to the foods I don't allow myself to eat or it is simply my brain not allowing me to eat them. I still feel so much pressure to exercise but the world scares me. I have started to go out for runs once to twice a week but I don't know whether I'm doing this for myself or that voice in my head that likes to control my life.  

Instagram makes me feel like I am alone and am the only girl in the world who does not go to the gym, does not exercise and finds yoga extremely boring. I worry about my days off because I am scared of being alone with my own thoughts but I'm working on it, every day is a battle but its a new day and I am so lucky to have the most incredible friends and family around me. 

The most precious things in life to me now are having the ability to say no to the voice in my head and feel proud of myself for doing that. Learning to laugh again and finding 'myself' has been a journey, a journey that I'm still on but to be able to say, yes, actually, I am happy is worlds away from the person I was 4 years ago.

Anonymous, United Kingdom