Anastasia Amour Revisits Her Eating Disorder & How It Brought About Something Quite Positive

Eating disorder recovery is possible! Find out how Anastasia Sproull turned her eating disorder into something quite positive.
Anastasia Amour Founder of #ProjectPositive

Anastasia Amour
Founder of #ProjectPositive

Throughout childhood, I was always the fat kid – the girl who was always told “oh you have such a pretty face!” as if to deliberately exclude the rest of my being, which was clearly deemed as aesthetically wrong by those around me.

I received the odd few outright insults from the other kids here and there, but I had such a sense of bulletproof confidence around me that they seemed to quickly lose interest.

However as I progressed into my teenage years, the taunts from my peers started to come in thick and fast in the form of yelled insults at lunch or little notes passed from student to student in the back of the classroom amidst hushed laughter and insidious whispers. It started to get under my skin.

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I decided to diet, setting a goal of losing 10 kilograms to get be to a healthier weight – and I achieved it. I felt healthier than ever, and it was great. People seemed to look at me like I was suddenly worthy of being looked at, and I started to receive some really positive comments about my appearance on social media. For the first time ever, I felt like I had a shot at being one of the “hot girls”.

But despite my newfound feelings of attractiveness, girls at school still taunted me about my weight. I didn’t understand. Was I still fat?

I started using social media more and more – the online world was a place of escapism where I could come home after school and jump into a place where I felt safe from taunting, ridicule and comparison.  Despite my attempts to escape, social media soon became anything but a safe place for my increasingly fragile self-esteem. In comparison to all the other girls around me (both in real life and online) who were so pretty, popular and fit, I felt disgusting. My self-esteem hit an all time low when a couple of my classmates would taunt me endlessly online after school every day, telling me that maybe I would get a boyfriend if I looked “normal” and sending me thinspo websites.

The ridicule now wasn’t just in the classroom - it was in my bedroom. It was in my pocket. It was in my mirror. It was in my head. 

The taunts played on my insecurities, worsening every day. My shift into anorexia was a long time coming – so gradual yet so sudden that I wasn’t able to take stock of what was happening to me.

I became a member of multiple thinspo chartrooms and starving myself became the new norm for me. Amongst the clutter of my crowded and insecure mind calling out what was wrong with me, I found a sense of calm and control in not eating. I obsessively weighed myself and scrutinized my tiny figure in the mirror, calculating exactly how long I’d have to avoid eating for to lose the miniscule remnants of flesh that still clung to my ribs.

My weak body was temporarily boosted by energy drinks, which gave me a false sense of vitality and health. During this time, I got a boyfriend (which I attributed to my tiny figure) who unfortunately was an incredibly toxic influence on my already poor mental health and encouraged me to push harder and harder to lose more weight.

“Just a few more kilos” turned into a total loss of just over 45 kilograms, a shell of the person I used to be. I was no longer full of life or confidence – I was killing myself, quite literally. Friends and family showed deep concern for my health’s obviously spiraling descent, but I took this as a compliment to my figure rather than the call for help that it really was. This went on for around 4 years.

Had I kept in my cycle of self-inflicted negativity and comparison through social media, I think I’d be in a very different place today.

My recovery began when I realized that I hadn’t had a period in almost a year. The more I thought about it, the more I began to look at the sickly skinny girl staring back in the mirror - I no longer saw a perfect, tiny figure. I saw an emaciated girl with stretched out skin where her once full boobs and bum used to be. I saw a gaunt face filled with sadness and insecurity. 

It wasn't me, and that scared me.

I eventually got back to a healthy weight and although I was initially saddened that I could no longer see my ribs, spine and hipbones poking out, I knew I had done the right thing for my health. I deleted my social media profiles and made a deal with myself not to reactivate them until I felt confident in my body and my emotional state - and to this day, I maintain that this is one of the best decisions I've ever made. Had I kept in my cycle of self-inflicted negativity and comparison through social media, I think I'd be in a very different place today. 

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It’s been just over 5 years now since I exorcised my mental demons, but there will always be a little piece of my disordered eating that lives on in the depths of my mind – lurking, waiting, watching. Hoping that I’ll slip up. 

It’ll pop-up occasionally in my moments of raw emotion or extreme vulnerability; making me second-guess all the progress that I’ve made and the countless ways in which I’ve conquered that which tried to kill me.  

And I’ll be honest – in those moments, I’m scared.

It frightens me that those oh-so-toxic thoughts can pop-up again. But I also know that in my greatest vulnerabilities, I’ve found my strength. I’ve proven that I’m so much stronger than the thoughts that previously plagued me, and I know that I can get through whatever comes my way. I know that I can wrangle in those sprouts of old thought behaviors and that one tiny thought does not equal a relapse. 

It was my own experiences that inspired me to start #ProjectPositive, a social media movement aimed at stamping out self-inflicted negativity not only in the online world, but throughout our whole lives.

By drawing on mantras and affirmations, #ProjectPositive is showing women across the world that they don't have to create negativity in their lives. If you recognize a need in your life to shed any form of excess negativity, I’d encourage you to take part!

Enter your information in the fields provided to enroll in my free 4-day mental health advocacy email course, Turning Wisdom Into Words!

Marissa Pane

New York