Alex Staniforth

How would you explain your identity differs now from when your ED voice was it’s loudest?

My eating disorder voice has changed its tone so many times over the last six years that I don’t think it’s ever really had a peak or loudest time. My physical identity has changed frequently as a result of the behaviours but internally I’ve just learnt to view the eating disorder in a completely different way and view it as an unhelpful coping mechanism rather than part of me, or as a weakness, which has been a very important step to try and take control.

Did you still feel like there were parts of yourself (hopes, dreams and passions) throughout the time you were struggling with your ED?

Everything has always been present. Having positive things and goals to aim for has been my biggest weapon for fighting my bulimia, as they give something more positive to focus on and feel good about. Sometimes the eating disorder could interfere with these passions and spoil their enjoyment so that it felt as if my only pleasure was food and left me frustrated about why it still followed me everywhere uninvited, like a wasp.

The fact that I was able to continue achieving things proved to myself that the disorder didn’t have to stop me – but it added to the frustration and confusion as to why it still existed with so many better things around me. It also proves that no matter how successful or happy people can appear, they can still suffer in silence.

If you could give advice to someone experiencing something similar to what you experienced, what would you say?

When we lose hope and feel like we will never recover, try to focus one day at a time and not think too far ahead. Breaking things down into small steps is much more manageable and there’s always light at the top of the mountain if we keep moving forwards. A lot can change in one day.

It’s also important not to find excuses for the condition or give ourselves labels, otherwise we give power to the problem and prevent ourselves from confronting it.

Alex’s website ‘Achieving over Adversity’

Sign up for our newsletter

If you would like to receive updates from First Steps Derbyshire about the services we provide for people affected by eating disorders, please sign up here. You can find out more about how we handle your data here.