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What I Really Want for Christmas as Someone Struggling With Anorexia

Christmas can seem impossible for those struggling with eating disorders. It’s a time that is often focused on overindulgence and rich food, swiftly followed by the January diet hype. Not to mention the numerous family meals with family members who may or may not know, understand or be supportive. It’s the season to be jolly, but being jolly might be harder when you’re struggling with an eating disorder.

The time up until my last three Christmas’s have been a time full of dread and a hurried attempt to lose weight before the period begun in order to avoid going over my “safe weight.”

I would often wake up sweating from nightmares about Christmas and weight gain, and while others around me were enjoying Christmas dinner at school and college, getting in the festive spirit and eating food in abundance, I would be desperately trying to avoid all of this, hiding away in my room and freezing half to death, running on little food during cold winter nights.

Christmas for me, in recent years, has inevitably resulted in fights with my parents and comments from family members about how little I’d eaten and how thin I’d gotten followed by me isolating myself and crying. When this happens, Christmas might not just be ruined for you, but for everyone around you; and that feeling of guilt, of having ruined what’s supposed to be the most magical time of the year, can be so overwhelming that it almost always set me back in my recovery.

I wanted to enjoy my favorite time of year, see my loved ones happy and not focus on what I had or hadn’t eaten, but even while in the early days of my recovery, the focus on food became so overbearing that everything ended up ruined.

This year, what I want for Christmas is a new set of memories. World’s apart from previous years, I’m making the most of the time up until Christmas — enjoying Christmas chocolates while decorating with my flat mate, secret Santa and Christmas dinner with the incredible friends I’ve met in my first term at university — and when I leave for Christmas I’ll be doing the exact same at home with my family. I’m determined that this year I will rediscover my love and excitement for Christmas rather than dreading it and trying to design meal plans.

I want to replace the memories of tears and fights, with laughter and cherished time with my family. I want to show anorexia that I am strong enough in my recovery not to be set back by a time of year and prove to myself that it’s OK to indulge in whatever I want to over the festive period.

I’ve come a long way in my recovery, further than I ever imagined I would. By Christmas, my discharge will have been over nine months ago. For me, this is the final step in proving to myself that I have finally beaten this horrible disorder. I am strong enough and all I want for Christmas this year is to take it back and make it about me again.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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