At the age of seven, I'm told, I decided that my New Year's resolution would be to lose weight. I have no recollection of this, nor do I remember ever thinking that I was fat. I wasn't bullied or picked on, my home wasn't broken, and I was a happy and healthy.
I began to skip meals, cunningly inventive in finding new ways to dispose of school dinners. At High School I happily got through the day with just a bottle of Diet Coke at lunchtime – no eyebrows were raised until my mum dragged me to my GP, who cheerfully told me I was fine until my periods stopped. (I have since heard of girls with a BMI of 12, still menstruating).
What does an anorexic do when told they're not ill enough for help? Dive head first into becoming a "better anorexic" of course – casting us off will only make us worse.
Point No 1: GPs need more training in this field, and more awareness in schools wouldn't go amiss either.
The seeds of my eating disorder were sown long before the Spice Girls or Size 0 debates, when the terms "pro-ana" and "thinspiration" were but a twinkle in their fathers' eyes (that is, if words had parents). I didn't know what a diet was until I was around 14 or 15, when a few of my friends and their (irresponsible) mums went on the Special K Diet. As they discussed the ins and outs of existing on cereal, I rolled my eyes, feeling somewhat above all that nonsense.
Point No 2: Anorexia is NOT merely a result of celebrity obsession, "pro-ana" websites or diets-gone-too-far.
Fast-forward to today – modern British society, nauseatingly Americanised, obesity epidemics, and the bane of my life, "everythingorexia". Yes, we have tanorexia, manorexia, pregorexia... all of which suggest that anorexia is some form of trend, a slang term that can be slapped across any old obsession to make it media-friendly. That is, sadly, what eating disorders have become – exploited and sensationalised, and most frustratingly, generalised to the extent that the overall depiction of Anorexia is a mess, a sea of myths and misunderstandings.
Point No 3: Do not believe anything you hear/read/see about eating disorders in the media - only a sufferer can tell you the truth.