The third entry of her Guest Blogger series, Emily Nuttall explores how specialised treatment for her anorexia and autism was integral in her sustaining recovery.
Our guest blogger shares some personal accounts which some may find difficult to read, particularly if they’ve experienced trauma in the family and self-harm. Please go gently.
Well, I have always described anorexia and autism to my treatment teams, friends and family, as being the best friends that I never had.
Anorexia had been the thing I could run to when I couldn’t express my pain or fear. Anorexia was my comfort blanket – I couldn’t show anger as I’d been taught by my life experiences that being angry was bad. I had been told to be a ‘fighter’, to be ‘strong’. This made it terrifying to show weakness, fear, pain, vulnerability. With anorexia and autism, I could protect myself from all around me as well as escape the pain.
In essence, the two diagnoses helped me disconnect from reality. They helped me to be absent from my own body or mind, so they didn’t feel like mine anymore. I held anorexia close to me – it felt like a slow death. My experience of communication from others had been one of outbursts, screaming, shouting, therefore I believed I had to be punished. Autism took me into a safe world that was so unique, I didn’t know where I belonged. Anorexia and autism needed me to make everything right and perfect in my life, otherwise it wasn’t good enough.
When I worse my “I’m fine” mask with anorexia, it allowed me to somehow be strong ad thrive, even though both my mind and body were at breaking point. Anorexia meant I didn’t have to be Emily anymore. Who wanted me to be Emily anyway? As far as Emily was concerned she wasn’t loved, needed or wanted.
How treatment aided my recovery –
Eating disorder treatment adapted for autism allowed me to be real. It allowed me to be vulnerable, to remove my mask of “I’m fine” and the care allowed me to better understand myself, as Emily.
It is honestly the greatest gift in the world to know that the real me was somewhere there, underneath anorexia, autism, her pain and disabilities.
In therapy, I felt like a butterfly being able to finally spread its wings and fly. I felt able to regrow to be able to do amazing things to empower others and myself.
“Eating disorder treatment adapted for autism allowed me to be real… the care allowed me to better understand myself, as Emily.”
For me now, MANTRA and other eating disorder treatments adapted for autism have taught me how to feel emotions and how to be connected my own mind and body again. It allows me to connect and it has shown me that it’s ok to be vulnerable. That it’s ok be afraid and to be fearful.
On the other side, it has helped me feel reborn and able to accept Emily for just who she is. I feel proud of that Emily and of her strength in finding her voice again.
That is why I am sharing my journey, in hope to empower others and inspire long lasting change. My recovery has connected me to playing the piano, singing, nature, reading, coaching and mentoring others. It has reconnected me in relationships with friends and family. My story has been voiced in the media and this shows there is power in sharing my voice. Having co-authoring 7 books, I remind myself that I can be who I want to be and be proud of myself.
Recovery has given me back my self-worth. It gave me back Emily, who could learn to feel and think and no longer detach, disconnect or shut down. These are the best feelings in the world and I remind myself that I am brave. I am bruised. I am who I am meant to be – this is me.
Emily is a motivational disability, children, young people, families and homelessness campaigner and advisor with Action for Children. Emily is also an incredible mental health and eating disorder campaigner, champion and speaker, disability sports coach with Guernsey Mobility Let’s Go, MOE foundation coach, an entrepreneur and inspirational co-author for the books. She is an active fundraiser, campaigner, speaker and media volunteer for Beat, the UK eating disorders charity.
Emily is all about empowering people and inspiring long lasting change.