Written by Ellen

The worst word that could ever be thrown at me during my days in condition. That tiny word had such power over me – the second it crossed my mind, I became horribly self-conscious and hyper aware of all the space I was taking up. It didn’t matter what size I really was or how lovely I had thought I looked – being a ‘big girl’ was devastating to me. My face would flush with embarrassment and I would feel the need to shrink away, to hide myself from all these people who I thought were looking at and judging me. It could pull me right out of a moment – laughing with my friends, I could suddenly become aware of how much space I was taking up on the sofa and the joy would be sucked away. It niggled at the back of my mind, a constant reminder that I was not worthy.

Moments were then defined not by the emotion I felt, but by how little space I was taking up. When I moved out of my home for the first time, I walked into the new house not wondering whether I wanted to live there, but whether everyone was impressed by how small I was. It kept me from fully participating in so many moments, whether positive or negative. My entire focus was on keeping myself in check, never letting go of control and risking being seen.

Almost without me noticing it happening, this has changed.

Condition did give me a smaller body, but it also forced me into a small life. I existed in what felt like total isolation, even though there were people around. I was too afraid to try anything in case I messed up, too far away from my real emotions to feel anything. The world was so dull and depressing – what was the point of going anywhere if I was only going to feel the same?

Recovery has opened up the world. Over time, I’ve allowed myself to dream, to imagine a future that makes me excited to get up in the morning, to fully experience moments and beauty around me. I don’t want to be stuck in that small box anymore, where I’m afraid to do anything. It hasn’t always been easy – condition minimised emotions, including the really challenging, uncomfortable ones – but the moments where I can look around and really feel the joy of where I am are so worth it. Size is the last thing on my mind when I really feel connected to the moment I’m in. These start off few and far between, but if you can feel free for one moment then you can do it again. I’m even learning to value those deeply uncomfortable feelings, as they mean I’m really living.

I don’t want to be small anymore, I don’t want small life anymore – it’s not worth all that I had to give up to achieve it. I’m all about big – big laughs, big tears, big dreams, big heart. I don’t want to shrink away from my life anymore.