Emma Bartlett - Speaking Out

Hey everyone,

I’m Emma.

We all seem so ashamed to have suffered, we keep it so secretive. We only tell people on a need to know basis... the reason you may ask? We fear judgement and being treated differently, the worry of someone not treating us the same way they would anyone else or someone not offering you extra food or something to drink. But we shouldn't have to feel that way. We need to change the way society see's eating disorders and the way in which they should treat people who have suffered and are suffering.

Speaking out and telling people what the truth is about our illnesses is the only way that we can do that. We need to stop hiding it away like a dirty little secret and start accepting that, yes it is a part of our past or present sadly for some, but it doesn't mean they should treat us in a different way. So here is my contribution, here is my story.

“At school I was always the 'fat' girl, you name it I've been called it from 'beast' to 'tree trunk' to 'man sloth' and the list could go on. Until one day I remember shopping in Topshop with my mum and I looked in the mirror and sobbed because I couldn't fit into a pair of size 12 jean. I vowed from that day on to eat healthier and move more.

I had been part of a swimming club for my whole life but I simply started training more and eating better, the weight slowly but surely came off and two years later people started to say how wonderful I looked. How amazingly well I'd done to lose all that weight. I loved it, finally something that I was actually good at. Something people actually noticed. I then maintained my weight for around a year and a half, at this point I was going swimming as well but surely with the pressure of exams and life, food became something that took a bit of a thrashing and slowly but surely got smaller and smaller.

After my 16th birthday in the summer and my GCSE results I started at sixth form, ready for two hard years of my life and the end goal was perfection! Three months in and my weight has plummeted and I was overexercising. I was striving for something that I would never get, something that my anorexia wanted.

Day by day I disappeared bit by bit. Then one day after reaching out to a girl on Instagram I wrote my mum a letter telling her I may have a problem but that thought I wasn't ill enough. She took me to the GP three weeks before Christmas. Services closed over the festive period and this is when everything got a heck of a lot worse.

My BMI shot way below what was healthy and after a week at home after my initial assessment I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital where I underwent inpatient treatment for 3 1/2 months. Then with some added weight gain everyone thought I was 'well' again, CAMHS had done their bit and after 6 months as an outpatient I was discharged. Brilliant bye bye anorexia, hello life.... well so I thought.

I was okay for around a year, then as I became more and more stressed about what to do with my life food once again started to become the only thing I felt in control of, gradually cutting and cutting down portions and portions. Until I was in my old rut.

My mum said and asked several times was I struggling again but I didn't want to let her down, so I said no I'm fine! My weight gradually went down and down and I couldn't stop it. I tried everything but I just couldn't make myself eat more. Until one Sunday morning my mum said 'Emma, you're so so thin. You really need to eat more.' I just burst into tears and told her everything. The following day I was booked in to see the GP re-diagnosed and referred to the adult centre. Brilliant.

My anorexia had set back in but this time something was different. This time I was determined to kick start my recovery, this time I honestly wanted to recover. I wasn’t going to let myself just step through the process, or to just fool myself and others by appearing healthy. No this time I was going all in!

At the start it was hard but as time went on it got easier and easier. I stuck hard at recovery and I mean real recovery, I’m still sticking to it! Now here I am, with a healthy body and for the first time in years I'm enjoying my life. I wake up every morning and say screw you to anorexia.

Don’t let anorexia make you wait to change. Change now, never look back, never give anorexia any wiggle room, when she screams, you scream louder, when she stamps and kicks and tells you not too.... walk in the other direction and do it!

Eat the chocolate bar or the brownie you've deprived yourself of for so long. Life is for living not just surviving, we don't have to earn our right to be alive we have to claim it! Make the most of every day because life is to short to waste in worry. You're stronger than you imagine and you're more powerful than you will believe.”

Lots of love, Emma.

Margherita Barbieri