Into the light: a story of my battle with the darkness of anorexia
Trigger warning: This content discusses eating disorders
Hello! I am Tilly Dunlop, an autistic Youth Network Ambassador for Ambitious about Autism. I was diagnosed with autism late in life at the ripe old age of 18, the result, in my opinion, of our patriarchal, ableist society. The injustice that I personally feel has seeped into humankind has made me beyond passionate about educating, cultivating acceptance, and dedicating myself to being a part of the movement towards a more accessible and nurturing world.
If you are new to this platform, please have a look at the incredible resources and helpful information available, all of which are carefully curated by the wonderful staff and other autistic individuals that form Ambitious about Autism.
The effects an eating disorder had on me
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 14. My hair began to dull and fall in clumps from my scalp, my skin greyed to a chalky film that just managed to stretch around my body, my period stopped, I was anxious, depressed, teary, self-destructive, and deathly.
I couldn’t hide my illness anymore. My mum forced me to the doctor where I was informed I had lost 10% of my body fat in less than six weeks.
Being admitted to CAMHS
I was admitted to CAMHS, which in my opinion is a destructive and useless service, that weighed and measured me every session pushing me further into my spiral. I was elated to have no effective service that could ‘place more fat onto my body’, yet my mum worried for my life. She was the one who saved me. My family and my innate determination to live, despite every struggle, pushed me towards life.
I was made meals and equally made to eat them. I was spoken to with patience and love and was given help in researching what occurs to the mind whilst living with an eating disorder. I was able to move forward with my recovery once I understood what my brain was doing to my body and what they both needed.
I may still struggle with my anorexia every day, even five years on, but I am beyond lucky that I was saved from my near death. I am beyond lucky I had a support system to depend on when too many people are left with nothing but a failed provision of mental health services.
Your struggles are valid
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, bipolar, DID, schizophrenia or neurodivergencies you will most likely feel isolated, scared and forgotten. In my opinion, this is the fault of the system, not yours. Your struggles are valid and beyond worthy of support and care.
If you have been left feeling discarded by health services please don’t give up, fight for your right to an easier life. Access support groups, watch videos made by communities you find comfort in and access help from charities such as Beat, SEED, Anxiety UK, Bipolar UK, CALM, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Papyrus, YoungMinds or your local crisis team. Read blogs like this one to remind yourself you are not alone and please reach out for help.
The internet can be a toxic place and views circulated on social media can be catastrophic for the eating disorder crisis. However, there are some safe havens within the web of the net, and I promise you will not feel so horrendous forever, darkness is always followed by light!
Here is further information about campaigns you can join to fight for change, and further places of support.
- Speak your mind petition
- Mental health in schools
- Fund autism awareness training in schools
- Review and reform child and adolescent mental health services
Useful links, resources and support