[infobox]Ariel is a 17-year-old girl who battled anorexia in the UAE. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.[/infobox]
I named my eating disorder Ursula, the villain from my favourite childhood movie ‘The Little Mermaid’. In many ways, my anorexia had presented characteristics that I saw in Ursula.
Anorexia – Ursula – is devious, manipulative, and controlling. She claims to be my friend and says that she wants the best for me when in fact she only wants me to do what’s best for her. She convinced me that I needed her help to reach my weight goals when I felt helpless and out of control, and told me that listening to her would give me happiness and power.
Ursula is like a snake oil saleswoman. She has a talent of making great sense and making persuasive points when trying to strike a deal. Listening to her only made me lose an important part of me just like Ariel lost the voice that was very special to her. The more attention I paid to Ursula, the more powerful she got, and the tighter her mighty tentacles wrapped around my body to get a good grip on me.
Ursula caused me to isolate myself and hide away from my family who became increasingly worried; the same way Ariel deviated away from her family and caused her father much distress.
She changed me into someone I wasn’t. I was no longer a happy, healthy and cheerful girl, but instead I was in constant misery and despair as I lost myself and had become weak, sad and continually exhausted.
Ursula planted very negative thoughts in my mind, which I still fight to this very day. Things like “You are not good enough,” “You can never succeed,” and “I’m the only one who can help you. Do not listen to anybody else,” got embedded into my subconscious mind. When I’d give in and listen to her, she became greedy and wanted me to do more, go further. She was never pleased with whatever I had to offer, constantly nudging me to stop eating. The truth is, she never will be pleased until she kills Ariel – me.
The more time and attention I paid to these negative thoughts, the bigger they grew, and the stronger Ursula became. It was only after being taken to the hospital for what Urslula had done to me and sought help for my disorder that I realized Ursula’s weakness was having someone stand up to her and challenge the thoughts that she tries to make me believe.
I have learned that to defeat any ruthless force, whether anorexia or some other villain, the key is to fight back and never give up. Whatever battle I am going through, I remember that I am Ariel, and I am not alone.