I have a twin sister. I guess it’s normal for siblings to be compared to one-another, but being genetically identical to another person means people find the comparisons even more entertaining. They’re desperate to know ‘which one’ is cleverer, taller or heavier. Which one is better. Even our teachers at school were encouraging us to compete against each other. So from a young age I was desperate to be perceived as the more attractive twin, became obsessed with my size and began skipping meals. I completely internalised the idea that my entire personality and self existed relative to my sister. I spent my entire adolescence trying to prove myself. I was spiteful about her achievements and wished failure upon her. She did the same to me. We loved each other so much but society had entered us into a vicious competition against our will, in which we were rivals. We would sabotage each other to get an advantage, though we’d never admit it. By the time we were 18 our relationship was in ruins.
We resented each other, we couldn’t trust each other, but we were also grieving the relationship that we deserved to have that had been taken away from us by the competition. Eventually everything came out. We talked for a long time about things we both knew but had never acknowledged, and we decided to turn a new page and be honest about how we feel. I would tell her if I felt intimidated by her success at something, and vice versa. That platform of communication changed everything and we became closer than ever. But I couldn’t shake the physical comparison: the first and most obvious comparison to be drawn between us. I wanted there to be no doubt about which one was the skinny twin and, by default, which was the fat twin.
It sounds awful writing it down, but that’s where my eating disorder was at. I became very underweight and everything I did was in fear of gaining weight. I had no friends as I couldn’t socialise – I didn’t have the energy and I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was out of control of my diet. I left my job because I was too exhausted, and I became a prisoner in my bed, drained, depressed and hungry. But I was the thin twin. It’s true that comparison can kill you.
I was at rock bottom, physically and mentally, and I firmly believed that I couldn’t be helped. But I was incredibly lucky to be assigned a therapist who probably saved my life. She laid the foundations for my recovery. I’m now a healthy weight and I have a healthy relationship with food. I’m learning to accept myself as an individual with my own personality and my own aspirations. My adjectives don’t end in ‘-er’. I am funny and passionate and giving and determined and goofy and so many other things. My sister is funny too. She’s also sporty and trendy and bubbly.
I want anyone reading this to know that recovery is possible. I didn’t believe it at all – I thought that I would never be truly comfortable with food or my weight. I honestly believed that for me, recovery was impossible. But I’ve restored everything that I’d deprived myself of and it’s been the most enjoyable and exciting and beautiful journey. It’s a cliche but I honestly feel like I’m stood with my hands on my hips looking at the mountain and proudly thinking ‘I climbed that’. I really want everyone to get a chance to look back at their mountain, because it’s such a beautiful view!