My True Story #No99

"My name is Fionnuala, and for a while now I have had to fight my way through a dual diagnosis of anorexia and Crohns Disease..." - Fionnuala

"Back in my second year of uni, I began to bloat heavily despite being healthily slim.

My perfectionist personality forced me to believe 'this is my fault. I need to work harder to feel better about myself.'

So with that, I started to diet and exercise slightly more and soon enough the pounds came off. Before I knew it I was down a rabbit hole of exercise addiction and full blown eating disorder behaviours that I masked as 'motivation.'

I made up excuses as to why I couldn't go on nights with my friends. I actively avoided eating dinner with my family. I refused to go on dinner dates with my boyfriend if there was no calorie count on the menu.

I hit rock bottom and finally admitted to myself that I couldn't pull through this alone. When I was admitted into the Adult Eating Disorder service, I felt nothing but weight off my shoulders when my therapist gave me the diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa.

At that point, I was a mess. My hair was falling out, my nails were brittle, I was constantly freezing no matter what the weather was like, I had no energy, my periods had stopped and again, I was constantly bloated and in pain.

But I knew I had to come out the other end. As my therapist said, 'you have 3 choices; you overcome anorexia and live a full and happy life, you survive without recovering and live a half-life of obsessing over food restriction and weight control, or you die.'

I knew I had to give myself a fighting chance of survival and happiness. But despite doing the work and attending therapy religiously, I struggled to regain weight. I was going to the bathroom 10+ times a day, was bloated constantly and experiencing extreme fatigue and abdominal pain. After rounds of tests, the diagnosis was Small bowel Crohn's Disease.

This made recovering from anorexia a lot more difficult, but not impossible.

It was the hardest thing ever to increase my food intake while my body was screaming 'No'. Adapting to having a chronic illness as well as an eating disorder was the hardest thing to wrap my head around, and I almost lost my place on my degree course due to being too ill at times to keep up with the demands of the course. But with a combination of Crohn's medication and talking therapy, I have now fully recovered from Anorexia.

I am in the best place, both mentally and physically, than I have been in a very long time. I have since graduated with my Masters, passed my driving test and bought my very own home with my fiance.

Sadly the same cannot be said for my Crohn's Disease, I've still yet to find the treatment that will work for me and bowel resection surgery is on the cards in the future. But I know I have the strength and resilience inside me to see myself through it. Being diagnosed with Crohns Disease and experiencing multiple flare ups in the middle of my recovery from anorexia made me realise that what my body looks like does not mean a thing if it isn't working properly.

I will forever treat my body with the respect and love it deserves after all it has came through.

I have often felt too ashamed to speak out about my story for fear of what people think.

I used to post pictures on Instagram in the worst of my eating disorder pretending that I was living my best life, thriving off compliments when in reality, I was miserable.

I do believe social media would be a much happier, accepting place if we all stopped sharing only our 'highlight reels' of our lives and started being more open with each other."

True Story told by @Fionnuala.Christina

If you have been affected by Fionnualas' story, please visit our help page.

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