My name is Amy Marguerite Crerar and I was just 13 years old when I began to develop a disordered relationship with food, movement and my body. Between the ages of 13 and 15 I displayed all the signs and symptoms of someone suffering from an eating disorder. However, it wasn’t until I had hit absolute rock bottom that this illness received its recognition. Aged 15, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and admitted quickly into hospital at a critically low weight. Little did I know that I would land myself there another four times in the 2013-2015 period, attempting to take my life more than once in the process.
Naso-gastric tubes, heart monitors, medication, daily blood tests, interrupted sleep - this became my life on the ward, day in and day out, and at home - my family were left with a child so far from the one they brought into the world. I had fallen so deep into this dark place that I would rather suffer than surrender ‘control’. I was put on anti-depressants after an attempt to run away from hospital and take my life. I was exercising compulsively to the point of passing out. I was consuming next to nothing, sometimes going weeks without anything at all. Because of my illness I was rarely able to attend school and missed out on most of my high school education. I had completely isolated myself from my nearest and dearest because I simply had no energy left to invest in anything other than my illness. It took away everything and gave absolutely nothing in return.
After years of battling with the monster inside of my mind, it was suggested that I try individual therapy. By this stage my future appeared dim and to many (myself included) my capacity for recovery was questionable. My therapist was the exception. Having worked alongside my family for a number of years already, her voice became the only one strong enough to overpower that of the illness - the only one I could truly trust. While my anorexia hated this, the healthy part of me was pining for a way out, so I listened, and we actually began to get somewhere.
Starting CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) with my therapist was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I have her to thank for encouraging me into the process. As incredible as my parents are, our family dynamics (my mother’s illness/disability) made it very difficult to sustain the family-based approach. Engaging in treatment individually equipped me with exactly the tools and the space that I needed to take ownership of my own health, and this is where I saw change for the first time. In addition to therapy I began practising mindfulness and self-compassion, both of these serving to reduce anxiety and recover my lost sense of self.
Fast forward two years and I can proudly say that I am no longer in the claws of this deadly illness. While anorexia does not dominate, I cannot say that I am entirely recovered. I still have battles to fight and challenging decisions to make but as long as I continue to choose recovery I know that I will find it in its completeness.
I am currently pursuing a tertiary education in Psychology and English. Through the pairing of my education and personal experience I hope to walk alongside people like myself in their journey to freedom. I hope to be that voice of truth that my therapist was for me, and I hope that this message reaches someone, somewhere, reminding them that they too will be okay.
Freedom - it exists, and if I can find it then sO can you!
A POEM WRITTEN BY AMY...