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From Laura

 I’m 29, living in Liverpool, and I’ve been dealing with an eating disorder for most of my life. It started in my teens, and it’s something I’ve never been able to fully shake.

My relationship with food is complicated. It’s not just about eating; it’s about control. When everything else in my life feels chaotic, controlling what I eat gives me a sense of stability. But it’s a dangerous game. I’ve been hospitalized more than once for malnutrition, and the fear of relapse is always there.

I work in fashion, which doesn’t help. The pressure to look a certain way, to be a certain size, is immense. I see these perfect images every day, and it’s hard not to compare myself. Even though I know they’re airbrushed and unrealistic, it still messes with my head. The industry is brutal, and it takes a toll on your self-esteem.

The pandemic has made everything worse. Working from home, being isolated – it’s triggered old habits. I find myself skipping meals, over-exercising, and obsessing over calories. It’s like I’m back in that dark place, and I’m scared I won’t be able to pull myself out this time.

My family knows about my struggles, but they don’t really understand. They try to be supportive, but their comments sometimes make things worse. “You look so thin, you should eat more,” or “Just have a little bit, it won’t hurt.” They mean well, but it’s not that simple. Eating is tied up with so many emotions, and it’s hard to explain that to someone who hasn’t been through it.

I’ve been seeing a therapist, which helps, but progress is slow. Recovery is not a straight line. Some days, I feel strong and in control, and other days, I’m right back where I started. It’s frustrating and exhausting.

The worst part is the isolation. I’ve pushed people away because I don’t want them to see me struggle. I avoid social situations where food is involved, which is pretty much all of them. It’s lonely, and it feeds into the cycle of anxiety and depression. I know I need to let people in, but it’s hard to let down my guard.

Work is a constant source of stress. The deadlines, the pressure to perform, the constant scrutiny – it’s overwhelming. I’m worried about my job performance, about my future in the industry. The anxiety is crippling, and it’s hard to focus on anything else.

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