How Anorexia Nervosa Impacts My Life.

Although I talk about recovery from anorexia nervosa, and how to help yourself and others, I’ve never actually gone into detail about what it’s like to live with Anorexia Nervosa.

Have you ever wondered how anorexia nervosa impacts daily life?

As the majority of my readers will know I’ve suffered from Anorexia Nervosa since I was a young girl. Although I talk about recovery and how to help yourself and others, I’ve never actually gone into detail about what it’s like to live with Anorexia Nervosa.


My Life With Anorexia Nervosa.

Anorexia Nervosa came into my life shortly after I entered high school. That’s where it would stay at varying levels until the present day. Officially I’ve been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa for over fourteen years, unofficially it’s closer to sixteen. I’ve never quite known where it began or in what order. It’s a chicken and egg scenario. What came first; depression, anxiety or the eating disorder?

That’s the thing about eating disorders; They never exist alone. Depression and anxiety will usually co-exist due to an imbalance of hormones, depletion of the body’s nutritional needs and the ill effects of malnutrition. Or like me, you may be stuck on deciding if they were already there in the first place.

Either way, it doesn’t change the tremendous struggle that it takes to live daily alongside an eating disorder.

For a long time, I was unable to separate myself and the Anorexia Nervosa. It was mine, it was a ‘She’ and together we were perfectly happy. After being in quasi-recovery for over four years I decided to call her up in late 2018. I called because I needed to feel anything other than perpetual fear, crippling self-doubt and ‘FAT’. At the time I was working in a very stressful work environment that in hindsight wasn’t right for me. I was pushing myself to the absolute limit and still falling short. But I knew anorexia, I’d danced with the devil before, and I was damned good at it.

Before weighing up the potential dangers (for which there were many), I was out buying a scale and determined to succeed! I’d be the thinnest I’d ever been or I’d die trying.

The Impacts of Anorexia Nervosa.

Dealing with physical and mental impacts.

Anorexia Nervosa has taken a lot from me not only as an adult, but also as a child. I’ve lost my teenage years, relationships with friends and family, missed out on social events, lost confidence and most importantly, I’ve lost myself. The trauma caused by Anorexia Nervosa has left me so damaged that in December ‘18 I suffered from a breakdown. In hindsight, it’s not surprising considering the pressure I’d put myself under. Consequently, this meant that I could no longer work and so I was signed off on sick leave. *I’d later leave that job in June ’19 after the death of my grandfather.

Anorexia and the impacts of such can become so complex that it can be difficult for non-sufferers to understand. So, in order to cover all areas and to keep it simple, I’m going to keep this relatively short. This is by no means a definitive list nor is it true of all those who suffer from anorexia nervosa.

My memory has been severely impacted.

Although I was completely unable to focus and retain basic information while actively starving myself, I’ve found little improvement during recovery. When I was working I could barely remember driving there. Now I find myself relying on one-too-many alarms just to remind me to eat or take medication.

My short term memory is by far the worst. I find myself having the same conversations with my partner over and over until he’s exhausted trying to explain that we’ve talked about it already.

It never ceases to amaze people just how quickly I can forget something.

The depression and anxiety can be crippling.

I’ve suffered from low moods and anxiety for years now, possibly before the eating disorder. But the depression and anxiety that co-exist with anorexia nervosa leave you in a horrible, horrible place. The anxiety keeps me up at night, while the depression begs me to sleep. I’m exhausted all the time because my body isn’t getting a peaceful sleep and the anorexic routine keeps me fixated on a waking time between five and six in the morning.

Then there are the dark, dark moods that I can find myself in. Sometimes there’s a tell-tale build-up to these bleak periods and other times it just hits me like a train.

“I’ve been completely floored by depression, making it difficult for me to find the motivation to even get out of bed, never mind feed myself.”

It’s getting easier with the help of weight restoration, therapy, and medication, but it’s certainly still a present concern.

The anxiety comes in many different forms. First, there’s the persistent fear of food, especially ‘fear food.’ My anxiety is severely triggered by things like milk, bread, chocolate or foods which are normally perceived as ‘bad.’ Anything involving these, especially when I have to eat them, can send me into panic mode and possibly a panic attack.

Secondly, I mentally and physically find it difficult to leave the house without my partner or someone I know. Throw food shopping into the mix and the anxiety increases tenfold. I simply can’t do it. Even when I do go shopping with my partner I let him choose the food items while I browse the non-eatables.

Thirdly there’s the fear that surrounds cooking. I haven’t cooked in months, possibly years, as a result. The idea of separating, weighing, chopping, simmering, etc just terrifies me and I’ve no idea why. I used to cook all the time when I did my GCSE’s. Although also suffering from anorexia at the time, I took great pride in my altering meals to suit and then cooking them.

Finally, there are the physical impacts.

I suffer frequently from heart palpitations due to low potassium and an irregular heartbeat caused by many years of self-induced vomiting and starvation. These come and go and can often be coupled with anxiety.

After a long period on my feet, or even just after a simple, routine walk, I suffer from severe muscle cramps and joint pain. In recent weeks I took a trip with my friend to Ikea and was kept awake all night by cramps traveling from the soles of my feet right up to my upper thighs. I put it down to the increased level of activity which I’m both not used to and not particularly allowed to do according to my treatment plan.

It’s not unusual to suffer from joint pain as the cold weather approaches. My fingers tend to swell up and my feet turn gray due to how cold they can become. I also suffer from lower back pain and shoulder pain almost constantly.


“The impacts of anorexia nervosa can vary from person to person, and symptoms change daily. Some days are fine, while others can be unbearable.”

Truthfully unless you’ve suffered from an eating disorder, it’s hard to understand it. Quite often people see food as being the main issue when in fact there is deep, underlying trauma that needs fully hashed out and treated in order to reach a place of recovery. I personally attend treatment one to two times a week on varying days. This can change depending on my level of commitment and what I’m able to handle as therapy can be grueling. Even after nine months of treatment, I am still nowhere near ‘recovered’ and in fact, it may take many years to reach a place of normality.

The sad fact is that the majority of those with anorexia nervosa never recover, and more people die from eating disorders every year than any other mental illness. Yet the public understanding is that anorexia recovery is simply a case of refeeding and then you’ll be cured. I’ve heard the words ‘just eat something’ uttered to me on one too many occasions and it’s simply infuriating.

Public awareness and understanding of all eating disorders, not just anorexia nervosa, needs to be improved. The services for treatment are also in dire need of improvement, however, with limited NHS funding and a lack of Northern Irish government, this is unlikely to happen in the near future.


March 2nd marks the beginning of Eating Disorder Awareness week, a cause very close to my heart.

During the time I urge you to educate yourself on the various eating disorders out there, and the help available to you and your loved ones. In the UK and Ireland, funding for things such as eating disorder treatment is at an all-time low. I know of many people from Northern Ireland who have had to travel far from family, friends, work, and school in order get the treatment they need. This not only costs a great deal but also removes them from the safety of their support networks.

Please consider donating to your local eating disorder charity so that they can help provide volunteers and support for sufferers and their families.


*I should note that this was written months ago. I’ve since begun a new job and even started to cook again (while also enjoying it). The anxiety is still very much there, as are the heart palpitations and muscle weakness but I suspect they may never leave. Recovery is still just that; Recovery. I am still in it and I may be for the foreseeable. But I am happy to report that many things have improved since writing this.

74 comments

  1. I feel sad while reading your story but happy that you were able to overcome it little by little. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us.

  2. This was heartbreaking to read because I’ve been there – I spent much of my life there. I honestly don’t think that most people realize all the different ways that anorexia can impact your life both physically and mentally… If they did, they would understand why it can be so hard to even take the first steps towards recovery. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you so much pet. I really, really appreciate you reading this. It was a hard one to talk about but I felt it was time to expand on this issue more. xx

  4. I’ve learned so much through reading this post – it just goes to show that there definitely should be more out there to educate people on eating disorders and that there needs to be more awareness raised. I’ve said it before but I really admire you for sharing your story and I hope it helps others living with an eating disorder, as I’m sure it will! I’m so pleased to read that things are better since you initially wrote this too ???? Wishing you all the best with the rest of your recovery x x

  5. Your courage is amazing! We need more people who speak up about such issues! Thank you so much for sharing, sending much love!

  6. Your strength is amazing, I am sending you positive vibes from Belgrade! You courage to talk about these thing is inspirational!

  7. Thanks for sharing I know this has to be difficult. I have friends who were anorix in their college years. Thankfully they are healthy now.

  8. Congratulations! I’m so glad to hear you’ve recovered! I can see the appeal of working at it by yourself but for the longest time I needed inpatient and couldn’t get it without traveling far away. Luckily, I’m beginning to see the light by using outpatient services.

  9. I’m planning on running some fundraisers next year along side some charities. We certainly need to do more to help those in my current position.

  10. It changes slightly each year between the end of Feb and the beginning of March. It’s something I hold close to my heart and hope to hold a fundraiser some year.
    Thank you so much for reading.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a terrible disorder that impacts so many people. I’m glad you’re doing better and working through it.

  12. I can’t even image this food disorder. I guess it is associated with depression. That’s why people who are in this situations need a lot of attention.

  13. I cannot imagine how hard it must be. I’m glad to know your situation has already improved.

  14. I can’t thank you enough for sharing such an intimate story! I know Anorexia but I had no idea it is linked to depression. Very insightful. Sharing it.

  15. I am so glad that things are better for you now. It’s such a big struggle dealing with this. I am sure it will be a great help to someone dealing with this.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. We all have stories to share and being vulnerable and strong enough to share your story is an inspiration!

  17. Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your story. I feel like I have a glimpse into what daily life is like for you. I wasn’t aware that March 2nd is the beginning of Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I’m glad that you are sharing your story and helping others along your journey.

  18. I am so glad you are sharing this. The greatness is that you struggled through it and gave it light. This is so inspirational. You are helping so many people.

  19. I am so glad you are sharing this. The greatness is that you struggled through it and gave it light. This is so inspirational. You are helping so many people.

  20. I am so glad you are sharing this. The greatness is that you struggled through it and gave it light. This is so inspirational. You are helping so many people.

  21. Thanks for sharing your story. I am glad that your eating disorder has improved and you can share your story with us. It is very important to share this to encourage others who have the disorder but also help those who surround them.

  22. When I was a girl in school you heard more about it. I doubt it’s gone anywhere, so it’s good that you are bringing it back to light.

  23. I’m so sorry that you have to go through all of this. Maybe by sharing your story and what you deal with day to day can help others in a similar situation. So thank you for sharing.

  24. I know someone who battles this same condition. You are amazing and thank you for an added awareness.

  25. I also wanted to say that it is amazing how you put yourself out there to help others! You are amazing!

  26. It was so inspirational. The internal struggles you went through and to rise above it is truly remarkable. I know you are touching so many hearts.

  27. This is so inspirational. The internal struggle you have gone through and to rise above to share your experience is remarkable. You are touching a lot of hearts with this.

  28. A very heartfelt blog post here, it can’t be easy to explain but you have done a great job of it. I imagine it can be painful for you to think about? Its great that you are airing it so others can be comforted by your experiences and learn coping strategies.

  29. It’s good to hear that you are doing better. I’m sure that sharing your experience and battle with anorexia will help others who are going through this which is fantastic.

  30. I must say that I never really understood Anorexia Nervosa and the impact that it can have on someone’s mind and body. Thanks for sharing your experience so openly and I hope that you are now over the worst of it.

  31. I can’t even imagine how life must be. Society is so ill-informed on eating disorder! More awareness must be done on the impacts on life so that people can understand it better.

  32. I am so happy you are doing better. It must be so hard for someone to deal with something that affects your mind and brain.

  33. I feel so bad for you it must be so hard to deal with an illness that affects your mind and body. I am so happy and relieved to hear that some things have improved your life after writing this.

  34. I can only imagine the struggle it would be to suffer through that. Thank you for being open and honest about it. When more people feel they aren’t alone going through things like this it always helps.

  35. Oh my, I’m really sorry to know how bad anorexia has impacted your life (and a lot of other people). Hopefully, like you said, there will be improvements on public awareness and understanding of eating disorders, so more and more people will get help before it’s too late.

  36. I was anorexic for a period of time but I am really proud of myself because I was able to get myself OUT OF IT. I didn’t have to go to a therapist or anything and while told I need to be admitted to inpatient… I begged my mom to let me stay at home and work on it alone. And I did. And I am so much better and stronger because of it.

  37. I’m glad to hear that you have improved since writing this article. But recovery is such an ongoing process, so prayers to you as you continue to recover. It is also sad that resources are shrinking instead of growing in this area.

  38. This is a raw and very moving story. I don’t know anyone affected by anorexia so this was a very insightful read.

  39. I can’t even imagine. I had a friend with an eating disorder and I could see how difficult it was for her. I just tried to be there when she needed it.

  40. I know having this disorder is a emotional and mental issue. But I cannot imagine being anorexic with all the wonderful foods out there. My heart goes out to those who suffer from this. Blessing…

    Candy Rachelle
    Keeping Up With Candy
    http://www.keepingupwithcandy.com

  41. One of my closest friends in high school had anorexia. I don’t know if it is right to say I’m sorry. I know it’s not right to say I understand. Just know I empathize.

  42. Hey Chloe, I am sorry to hear about this. Hope you have a speedy recovery soon. It’s never easy to share such personal stories and thank you for bringing more awareness to eating disorders. Take care.

  43. I am glad to hear that many things have improved in your life since you have written this. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to live with such a diseases that affects both your body and your mind. I’m very sorry you are going through such horrible times 🙁

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