sychology student, Emelle Lewis, from Huddersfield, is a 22-year-old anorexia survivor. She revealed that at the height of her illness, she weighed just five stone and was hospitalized seven times. She first fell ill at 15, after feeling ‘fat and ugly’ among her peer group and struggling to get a boyfriend.
Her descent began with her visiting the gym more regularly but quickly spiraled into an obsession with food which saw her eat only Weetabix, rice cakes, and salad. Thus began her dangerous battle with anorexia.
When Emelle’s weight plummeted to five stone, she would dress in children’s clothes and was determined to try and live a normal life.
‘It started in high school when I wanted to lose weight because I always felt fat growing up. I always found it hard to fit in, and when all my friends were getting boyfriends at that time but I didn’t, I began to think it was because I was fat and ugly,’ she said.
In a fit of paranoia, she convinced herself that outsiders were trying to ruin her life and refused to comply with treatment.
She reveals that although she felt cold all the time, she didn’t feel weak despite her low body weight.
‘When I was ill, I didn’t believe there was anything really wrong with me. I genuinely believed I could maintain that weight and still live a fairly normal life. I didn’t want to get rid of my eating disorder. I refused to comply with treatment and was convinced that everyone was against me, lying to me and trying to ruin my life.’
‘I didn’t really feel that weak because my body had adapted to my low weight, however, the thing that got me the most was the cold. I was so cold it was painful.’
‘Before recovery, I would walk my dog for thirty minutes twice a day. I would do yoga and abdominal workouts every morning. I wouldn’t sit down during the day until after 4 pm.’
‘I claimed to be ‘vegan’ at the time so I could only eat fruit and veg and clean foods. I ate the same exact thing every day. Weetabix, hummus and rice cakes, salad and fruit before bed.’
Emelle’s turning point came when she began following recovery accounts on Instagram. She became inspired by other girls who had overcome the illness and soon realized she didn’t want to die. That is when she told her mum she wanted to start weight training to recover.
Emelle now eats six balanced meals a day, amounting to 2,800-calories and lifts weights in the gym. She is a healthy 109 lbs and a UK size 8-10.
‘I remember lying in bed one day feeling like I was really dying and realizing I had achieved nothing in my life and this is not the way my story is meant to end.’
‘This switched something in my mind and I knew I had to start fighting and show the world who I am meant to be.’
‘When I first decided to choose recovery I was terrified, I knew once I had made that commitment I had to stick to it so there was a huge part of me that was questioning, ‘am I really ready to let it go?’ I was also terrified because I thought, ‘what if I fail?’
‘I would feel embarrassed if I told everyone I was going to recover but then gave up halfway.’
‘I told my mum first that I wanted to start weight training to help me recover and she believed in me one hundred percent. That day she made so many phone calls to different personal trainers to see if someone would work with me.’
‘Despite relapsing seven times, my mum always believed in me and was willing to do everything to help me recover. However, my dad and my doctors and psychologist were a bit unsure and thought that it would just be like all the other times where I said I would get better but didn’t.’
‘The need to prove people wrong was another factor that gave me the motivation to recover.’
Emelle says the most difficult aspect of her recovery has been having to live her life opposite of what she has done for the past six years. However, she insists overcoming anorexia has made her mentally stronger.
In the evenings she trains at the gym and looks forward to the weekends to treat herself with a big ‘cheat meal.’
Emelle’s friends and family say they are so proud of her.
‘Now, I still have bad days towards my body image but most days I am proud of what I have achieved and proud of my body. I love watching myself gradually improving at the gym and getting stronger, knowing that I have done this all on my own,’ she said.
‘The most difficult part of recovery was going against everything I had believed for the past six years. Physically stopping myself from doing things that had become second nature to me through years of suffering from anorexia. I literally had to ignore my own mind.’
‘Overcoming this illness has now made me such a strong person mentally, I see the world through different eyes.’
‘I am thankful for every day I’m alive and I try to be as positive as I can in any situation. I feel like I can achieve anything now.’
She credits weightlifting for helping her recover and advises others to find and focus on something they are equally passionate about.
‘Anorexia tricks you into believing that you don’t want to get better, that there is nothing really wrong with you.’
‘The best way to overcome this illness is realizing that these thoughts are not you and they are a caused by something else that is not your friend,’ she added.
‘Find something you are passionate about, something you can work towards and focus all your time and energy towards achieving it.’
‘Life is too short and we only live once, don’t waste your life being controlled by an eating disorder.’
‘Love your body for what it is because one day we won’t have one.’
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”