Jonathan's Recovery Story

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Recovery story

Jonathan

At 17 I suffered an injury while playing rugby.  This lead to an operation which meant I could no longer play the game I loved.

Being forced to stop the sport inevitably caused me to drift away from the social side of my hobby.  I fell away from close friends who I'd grown up with, been to school with, and played the game with.  At the same time my self-confidence gradually began to disappear.

Until this point I had been a happy, popular and successful lad at school. But after this single incident a cascade of events ensued that made me feel like I was hopelessly losing control.

Since I was young and inexperienced, I scrambled around trying to regain a sense of stability. I longed for control, in any form. I soon began to limit the amount of food I ate. Over the next year or so I began to take pleasure from the hunger sensation. The more I denied my body the food it needed, the deeper my hunger became, and the greater the sense of control I felt being restored.

One day the hunger finally overwhelmed me. I began to purge. This quickly developed into a dangerous cycle of binge eating and vomiting. I ate whatever I could find.

The people closest to me saw that something was the matter but I kept my illness a secret. I kept things from those I loved the most. I lied. I became a very deceiving character, somebody I thankfully don't recognise today.

Then, one day, I stopped making myself sick. The reason may surprise you. For years now, I've loved electronic dance music. During my illness, the only social events I managed to attend were infrequent club nights where I would go with a small group of friends to see the DJs we loved. On Boxing Day 2006 I knew that vomiting would stop me from seeing the DJs I so wanted to see that evening. I knew this because the vomiting made me, quite understandably, exhausted. So I chose not to do it. I battled through the day, fighting to suppress that incredibly powerful urge. But I didn’t succumb.  Instead, I had a great time that night.

I haven't made myself sick since.

On that day, I found something that meant more to me than my illness. I know now that it was this that gave me my life back.

Over the next few months I gradually put weight back on, regained my strength, and recovered physically. I started university. Shortly afterwards I attended a Beat Self Help and Support group on university campus and for the first time talked openly to other people about what I'd been through. I cried openly in front of complete strangers. And they empathised with me. They helped me, over many sessions, to consider, accept and eventually understand what had happened to me. This helped me to recover mentally.

I now work closely with Beat as I truly believe in their value as supporters of recovery.  I am also incredibly grateful for the selfless work of the facilitators at the Beat Self Help and Support Group who helped me get my life back on track.

And, as strange as it sounds, I'm grateful to electronic dance music. It's my passion, to this day. Having spent the last few years reflecting on what happened to me while I was ill, I now know two things. The first is that I found something that meant more to me than my illness, and it was this that released me from the dark phase of my life. The second is that recovery is incredibly difficult to define, and takes a different meaning in each of us. For me, my relationship with food at any one moment can be pinpointed on a spectrum. When I’m in control, I lead a very healthy lifestyle in which food is an extremely enjoyable part. When I’m not in control, food is my default substance of abuse, to which I will naturally turn.  Not alcohol, drugs or self-harm, but food misuse. As time goes on, and life serves up its testing cocktail of challenges and stresses, I’m learning how to be in control more of the time. I will always worry about food more than the average person but, as long as I keep this worry under control, I can use it to my advantage.    

I know that my past eating disorder made me what I am today. It shaped me to be what I see in the mirror, in both the physical and mental sense. I want people to hear my story because, although it may not appear obvious on the surface, I have been in that dark place. I know what it's like.  An eating disorder robbed me of a potentially brilliant part of my life. But I'm lucky enough to be able to enjoy my life now. I know some people are not so lucky. It is those people who I wish to help.

 


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The Have I Got A Problem website is a free online resource to help people better understand any issues or concerns they may have about mental health or addiction. The website includes resources specifically focused to; general Mental Health, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Insecurities, Self-harm Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anger Management, Eating Disorders, Coping, general Addiction, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana (Cannabis) Ecstasy, PCP, Mephedrone, Ketamine & Crystal Meth.

The site was created to give the public information to help them understand mental health and addiction issues and to assist people in making better informed decisions about their life and personal choices.

www.haveigotaproblem.com was created and is run by 'Advising Communities’, which is a UK registered charity (Charity No. 1061055)

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