“Anorexia. Such a harsh, sharp word. Rather fitting, considering what it pertains to. A word charged with guilt, blame, secrecy and despair.”
For more than 15 years, Sunshine Coast resident Millie Thomas battled with this double-edged sword.
“On the one hand, I felt disgusted to be labelled an Anorexic (what a pathetic waste of space),” she said.
“Yet there was a part of me that harboured a perverse pleasure at being skinny enough to garner the label. That may sound complex and counter intuitive, but it’s child’s play compared to what life with Anorexia is like. It not only confuses you, but truly warps your mind.
“Anorexia creeps up on you when you least expect it and preys on your vulnerabilities. I was only 12 when the beast dug its claws in, and before I knew it I was a mere shadow of my former self.”
Millie says the devastating condition stole 15 years of her life and brought her within inches of her death.
It wasn’t until she was 27 that Millie began to break the horrific cycle and ultimately save her life.
“I was fighting the war of my life,” she recalls.
“Words cannot accurately portray the torment and overwhelming terror. Every second of every day I had to actively commit to recovery and all that it encompassed. There were many days when I bawled my eyes out for hours on end.”
Millie’s story of survival and hope is the reason the 29-year-old mentors more than 20 Sunshine Coast women and girls at endED (End Eating Disorders).
The organisation is one of the charitable causes (along with Wishlist and No Limits Adaptive Paddling) behind this year’s Waterlife event on August 19 at Lake Kawana.
“I want to do everything I possibly can to educate people about eating disorders,” Millies says.
“Through Waterlife – which raised a total of $39,000 last year – we hope to help create an environment in which women and men feel comfortable in their own skin.
“At present Waterlife really is the lifeblood of endED. Without the funds raised from the event last year we wouldn’t be able to make nearly as much of a difference to people’s lives as we currently are.”
Millie says she is determined to use her journey “to hell and back” as productively as possible.
“Waterlife is an essential part of making that happen,” she says.
Funds from this year’s Waterlife event will allow endED to launch awareness campaigns about services endED offers, as well as giving the team access to the latest eating disorder research to work with sufferers and their parents or carers.
“Ultimately Waterlife has fast tracked endED’s progress – the funds really are invaluable.”
Waterlife will also raise funds for Queensland’s first public Exercise Physiology Service for cancer patients which will be based at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, and support the growth of No Limits Adaptive Paddling – a program for people with physical disabilities.
To register your team or business in Waterlife – visit www.waterlife.org.au.