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I Hate You Anna. You Didn’t Win. Go. To. Hell.

By Maddie Powell

Recently, I had a huge milestone moment that I would like to share with everyone. Back in 2011, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and this pretty much turned my life upside down. I had lost so much weight that my body had stopped functioning properly. I was constantly tired, depressed, and I hated the way I looked so much that I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was obsessed with exercise and I would literally work out all day. I had this weird fascination with food and I used to read cook books like they were the Bible. I constantly cooked things that I wouldn’t eat in an effort to control and manipulate food.

After a few months of this, I was admitted into a Maudsley family-based treatment program via a CAMHS centre (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). I had no idea how tough the next few months/years of my life were going to be. My treatment involved weekly therapy appointments that my ENTIRE family had to attend, a weigh in, and the worst thing of all–eating. And it wasn’t just a little bit of eating, it was a lot of eating as food was my “medicine” and it just so happened to be the one thing I did not want to do!!!! In order to “get better” I had to gain back the weight I had lost (plus some extra) as quickly as possible, which was obviously a bit of a problem because I was incapable of eating enough to maintain my weight, let alone gain weight.

Because of this, my parents were “in charge” of what I had to eat. This involved eating three very high fat/calorie meals, two snacks (that were more like meals), and 3 Sustegens a day. I cannot even begin to describe how hard it was for me to eat anything, let alone all of this. Every time I had to eat was a struggle and I was forced to sit at a table until I had eaten everything that was put in front of me. I used to scream and cry and throw food just because I wanted it as far away from me as possible. I used to tell my parents that they were ruining my life, making me fat and that I didn’t care if I was going to die, and that they should just let me die. I honestly did not care about the damage I was doing to my body and I just wanted to die.

After a LOT of this, something snapped in my head. This one day I decided I was going to try and eat. Not for me, but for my family, because I could see how I was disrupting all of their lives; I took up the majority of everyone’s time. So that day, instead of throwing my lunch on the floor like I normally would, I sat there sobbing and I just ate it. It may have taken me a long time and I may have cried a river or two, but I ate every last bit of my lunch!!!! (First winning moment I remember). I wouldn’t say that after this eating was easy, but I was gaining some weight back and as I gained more weight, the constant battles at mealtime lessened. There were still plenty of them, but sometimes I was able to override them and JUST EAT! Even if I was sobbing and telling my mum that I hated her for making me eat, I still got it done. After months and months of hard work I was “weight restored” and after a few more months I could drop back to an almost normal diet (thank goodness) and my therapy sessions got spaced further and further apart. I was able to start choosing my own food on the condition that I didn’t lose any weight and all of my decisions were supervised.

After what felt like forever, I was allowed to start doing some light exercise. I (apparently) was doing REALLY awesome with my treatment and after a bit more time my therapy sessions were few and far between. I started to feel happy again, and eating didn’t scare me as much anymore. I started to understand that I had to eat if I wanted to live (duh).

So today, I am SO proud and happy to tell you all that I am OFFICIALLY DISCHARGED FROM TREATMENT! I BEAT ANNA! I could not be healthier, happier and PROUDER of what I have achieved!!! It took SO SO SO much hard work from a lot of people, but I HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN HERE!!! I couldn’t have gotten here alone so I just want to thank my entire family!!!

Abbey – Thank you for telling me that I wasn’t fat and that I was beautiful ALL THE TIME. Thank you for keeping an eye on me at parties and telling me I needed to eat more (I hated it at the time but I’m glad you did it) .

Jake – Thank you for distracting me at mealtimes. You made it so much easier for me to eat because you’re such a clown and I couldn’t help but laugh when you were at the table.

Dad – I’m still not sure if I’m ready thank you for all of those ridiculous food challenges, but thank you for making me eat cream Sustegens and lasagna that had extra layers of cheese “hidden” in it. Thank you for being there when mum needed a break and thank you for making me eat and for taking time off work to go to therapy.

Mum – Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Thank you for sitting with me every meal and for MAKING me eat. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for making me get better. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for fighting for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. Thank you.

Now I only have three things left to say… I HATE YOU ANNA. YOU DIDN’T WIN. GO. TO. HELL.

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6 Comments

  1. Kathie Powell

    Little update from Maddie’s Mum. Maddie is 24 next week. She was diagnosed at 14. She had a bit of a break from school while all this was going on and then went on to finish school and University. She is now a Radiation Therapist which can be a very stressful, sad job. She still eats. She had two break ups with serious boyfriends. She still eats. She had to go through Covid-19 restrictions unable to see us much. She still eats. Recovery is not just the weight. It’s them knowing that no matter what life throws at them, food will need to be eaten. I am so freaking proud of my girl. Those battles at the meal table showed her courage. While I was the baddie “making” her eat and she called me every name under the sun, I knew it wasn’t her but the ED talking. Where did I learn that? FEAST and ATDT. I credit this resource with saving my daughters life. The tips I got helped our family to do refeeding successfully. They helped me feel confident to push her weight up higher than her pre ED weight. State not weight. Big shout out to Charlotte Bevan who told me to put my big girl pants on. I wept for days when she passed. I will forever be grateful to all the parents before me who graciously gave their time and shared their experiences. Much love from the Powell Family.

  2. Laura

    Dear Kathie,
    Your note gives me such joy and I am filled with gratitude for this update and insight into your story. Charlotte was so deeply invested in your family’s success and spoke of you often as she was in her last months. She cared so much and BELIEVED so much in those Big Girl Pants and she, too, found her strongest allies and wisdom from our peer community. You are carrying on her legacy with your message here to the parents fighting now. Our personal narratives weave together over time to hold up the parents new to the diagnosis. THANK YOU, Powell family, and congratulations to Maddie and to you. I needed this today! I am verklempt!!

  3. Julie Montal

    Indeed, Maddie, this is such an important message of hope…it is a battlefield one can walk through, “get shot at” by ANNA and come out a greater person. Congratulations to the strengths of the members of your family and to you for your gratefulness,

  4. MIchael

    Maddie – the thought that one day, some day, my own daughter could write a similar note or even think those things to herself is what helps me get out of bed each day and be there to help her face anorexia. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Tilly

    Thank you so much for sharing this story and the comments. We are into week 10 of re-feeding treatment and I can’t find the light at the end of the tunnel right now.
    Your stories give me hope and that is all I have right now… hope that her and I will survive this somehow together. Xx

    • Carolyn

      Maddie, thank you for sharing your story . My daughter, developed her eating disorder at 14 and is battling it still at 21. Thank you for giving me hope . Enjoy your life.

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