To all the women who have lost their faith in good, decent men; meet my boyfriend. I don’t mean to gloat – actually, I do a bit – but, it’s rare that I get an opportunity to express my thanks so I’m going to take full advantage. Roughly two years ago, we sat in a London park after my first psychiatrist appointment and cried as I told him that what we’d all expected was in fact, true. I had anorexia and there was a strong possibility that, despite our best efforts, we might not be able to fix it ourselves. We talked about the prospect of a hospital admission and, through blurry eyes, he muttered that he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to “do it”. In other words, the emotional trauma of maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend of 18 months, whilst she was confined to a psychiatric hospital, was simply too terrifying to fathom at the age of 23. It would break his heart, but ultimately, he’d want out. And I didn’t blame him.
Two years; one hospital admission; several stone and a fair few anti depressants later, we’re still very much together. So together in fact, that we share the same home. He wrote the following for me and for this – and a million and one other things – I am forever grateful. Not many people can say that their other half actually saved their life, but I can. Well, Will AND Ice Cream.
By Will Grice
1) You Will Definitely Gain Weight
My weight has fluctuated over my adult life, I’ve gone from beer guzzling sixth former to student living off one meal a day, and everything in between.
“SOFT BITS BECOME ANGULAR & BONY”
But once your other half starts to lose weight and the doctor issues the, ‘make sure you have proper portions at meal times’ advice you will find yourself eating more and more as a way of compensating. When you order takeaway, you’ll find yourself finishing off one and half portions in an attempt to show that greasy pizza really isn’t that scary.
2) Sex Will Be Hard
Soft bits will become angular and bony, and definitely not in a good way.
3) You Will Outright Avoid Telling People About It
Bar my close friends and my family, I avoided talking to a lot of people about Eve being ill. When she went into hospital for two months, my old housemates never knew about it. The idea of explaining it to people can seem daunting, especially as it’s such a complex illness. More often than not, I spent my evenings alone in my room trying not to talk to people about where Eve was.
“THE NURSES HAD TO CHECK THE TOILET BOWL”
Even when I visited her in hospital and friends would ask me where I was going,I’d just outright lie, and tell them I was going for a drink with a friend (and definitely not to a grim hospital in Tottenham, where I would eat kebabs alone during the visiting break).
4) Your Relationship With Their Family Will Become Uncomfortably Close
Conversations will go from chats about where you went on holiday at 16, to how often is your other half having a shit in a matter of days.
5) You Realise People With Eating Disorders Really Aren’t Weird
Prior to Eve becoming ill I’d never really spoken to anyone with an eating disorder. Several people I knew growing up had become ill, or developed an illness after school, but I’d never spoken to someone about it in any meaningful way. So when Eve went into hospital and I first came to visit her on the ward, I was surprised to find the corridor filled with lots of very normal people, many who spoke openly about their illness and even joked about things such as the nurses having to check the toilet bowl after they’d used it. All of this seemed quite shocking at the start, but quickly you realise it’s no different to someone being in hospital for any other reason.
6) You Have To Stop Walking Everywhere
When someone you’re going out with gets an eating disorder, it’s like being tied to an old person. You have to take into consideration how far the walk is from the tube station, which stations have the easiest interchange and how many stairs you might have to walk up. All without the endless supply of Werther’s Originals.
7) It Opens Your Eyes To A Whole World Of Shit
For example; Deliciously Ella, Clean Eating Alice, The Body Coach, the ‘Beach Body Ready’ ad, Whole Foods e.t.c, e.t.c. All of a sudden you realise that these rather monotonous people/brands are making money by exploiting other’s fragilities.
“CLEAN EATING MARKETING IS UNAVOIDABLE”
Everyone knows that a great deal of fitness and wellness fads use marketing to make us feel inadequate about our body shape or size; but once your girlfriend becomes ill you start to notice how much of this is built into our everyday lives. Whether it’s tube ads, Facebook videos, Instagram posts, the ridiculous amount of places selling ‘raw’ or ‘clean’ foods; or simply people putting Chia Seeds on everything. It’s completely unavoidable.
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