Image: Amalie Lee/Instagram.
Three years ago, Amalie Lee was in the grips of her anorexia battle. Following a depressive phase during her teenage years, she became obsessive about her eating habits in order to make herself feel “in control”, and she become so ill she was almost hospitalised.
“I just wanted to disappear. My eating disorder was never about looking like a model, it was a way to cope,” she tells the Daily Mail.
These days, the now-20-year-old uses social media to document her recovery journey and offer support to other young men and women grappling with eating disorders.
On Instagram, the UK university student, originally from Norway, shares before-and-after photos that depict her ongoing progress, along with images of meals and snacks she eats each day, using the hashtag #realcovery.
Although her weight has been considered "normal" since earlier this year, Lee admits the mental repercussions of disordered eating take a longer time to overcome.
"The thought of spending the rest of my life alone, utterly consumed by an illness, eventually became more frightening than the thought of recovery... I didn't like seeing the people around me worried. Everyday activities became hard and eventually I ended up isolating myself," she tells the Daily Mail.
"Eating disorders often turn into an identity and I didn't want to be "the anorexic girl", I wanted to be me. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Luckily, I got good treatment. I learned a lot, both from my treatment personnel and from studying the topic." (Post continues after gallery.)
Lee's recovery began with therapy and medical monitoring at a hospital outpatient unit. On her Tumblr account 'Let's Recover', she recalls how difficult it was to change her eating behaviour to restore her weight and her metabolism; this required her to consume 3000 calories per day. "It took me half a year to get weight restored, and I honestly wish I had done it faster," she writes.
Lee — who is now studying psychology and counselling in London — started Let's Recover after educating herself about disordered eating and recovery, and deciding that information needed to be shared with other people in her situation.
"I wanted to make help, advice and resources available for everybody ... It's like a recovery library, open for everybody to read and see," she says.
Lee's website and Instagram account aren't just helpful — they're full of positive messages about the importance of looking after your health and loving yourself the way you are. Recently, Lee reflected on how her recovery has enhanced her confidence and the way she approaches life.
"Summer used to be the worst time of the year for me ... I felt very uncomfortable in clothes revealing my bare arms, thighs, stomach or legs," she writes.
"Now when I put on clothes, I look out the window and at my planner book, not at my stomach or thighs. I dress after plans and weather, not an unstable body image."
Have you ever recovered from an eating disorder? Were there any online resources you found helpful?
If you or a loved one needs assistance or support with body image or an eating disorder, contact The Butterfly Foundation National Eating Disorders Supportline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE).