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Some Unexpected Side Dishes That Came With My Entree Of Anorexia

The side effects I did not see coming...

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Anorexia is a different demon to every person that experiences it. There are some things that sufferers generally have in common – being cold a lot, having very little energy, getting irritable at the slightest thing – and then there are some things that one person will go through that others may not.

I'm going to tell you some of the side effects that I came across during my illness that I just did not see coming…

1. Dream Cravings

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When I was travelling I had a friend who liked to analyse our dreams for a bit of a laugh. Analysing my dreams as an anorexic would not be difficult. Food. I had the most detailed, bizarre dreams always revolving around food. I remember one in particular where my hands were granola and I tasted delicious.

I woke up in the morning having chewed all the skin around my fingers...

2. Memory Loss


Everyone knows a brain needs fuel and that food is fuel. No food = no fuel.

I had a padlock for the gym - a simple 3 digit combination lock. The code was 142, always had been. After a particularly "food-free" few days I had finished my workout (yep - not a good thing to be doing anyway) and went to get my bag out of my locker.

For the life of me I could not remember the combination. I sat on the floor of the changing rooms trying to remember the 3 numbers I had been putting in daily for the last 6 months. Nothing.

Half an hour later after countless funny looks from strangers and a steady stream of tears I went home. That was a low day.

3. Hair Loss


I've always had fine hair, but thanks to the anorexia there was a while I thought I might end up with no hair!

Your body is very clever at prioritising when it's short on resources – despite what I might have felt; maintaining any volume in my hair was not a priority apparently. A lot of it falls out. It's a bit grim.

4. Shaving


On the theme of hair loss; rather ironically as the hair on my head was falling out I was having serious trouble with hair removal. As a girl I have always considered it my right to moan about the chore of having to shave my legs and underarms. As an anorexic I envied the old me.

When there is more bone than flesh to your legs it's difficult to shave without inflicting some quite serious cuts along your shin bone and around your knees and ankles.

It is also virtually impossible to shave your armpits when there is so little flesh that you can't see where needs shaving.

I must take this opportunity to apologise to anyone I encountered at the gym who saw the results of not being able to shave my armpits whilst I was at the gym...

5. Burns and Broken Phones


There are some things that you do quite often without really thinking about them. For example I bet you don't really think about how often you use your legs to hold items when you have your hands full... someone straightening their hair will more than likely hold the straighteners between their thighs while they resection hair; people (females in particular) guilty of taking their phone to the loo may well rest it on their knee when they reach for some loo roll.

Well when there's a significantly bigger gap between your thighs than there ought to be (and than you're used to) the result can be a lot of GHD burns down your legs and a wish you'd bought a waterproof phone...

6. From ‘Innie’ to ‘Outie’


I, like the majority of people my age I think, have always had an 'innie' belly button. When I was at my lowest weight I suddenly realised that my innie had betrayed me and become an outie!! I was eating so little that my belly button was the most protruding feature of my torso – and yes that does include my boobs...

7. Lock Jaw


When I first started to deprive myself of food I became very good at ignoring hunger pangs and stomach pains, to the extent that as part of my recovery I had to re-train my body to get hungry. Part of doing this was to eat at regular times each day – breakfast at 8.30am, lunch at 2pm, dinner at 9pm. By doing this my body got used to having food at these times and began to expect it. I would start to get hungry just before each of these times – there's science that backs this sort of thing up. What I didn't anticipate was that it wasn't just my stomach that was expecting food – it was my mouth too. My jaw got upset if I didn't eat at the appointed times and started to tense and lock up. It means I look like I'm trying to hold in some deep-rooted anger. It also gives me a headache!

This post is purely representative of my own experience. For me finding, ways to laugh at the disease and my situation helped my recovery; that is not to say I don't fully appreciate how unfunny this disease is for those of us that battle it.

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