A young woman with anorexia that ‘stole her life’ would exercise excessively for seven hours a day and at the height of her suffering would consume just 800 calories.

Hannah Durbin, 21, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, started her battle with anorexia when she was 16 years old after the death of a family member in order to regain some control over her life. 

At her lowest weight, the student weighed less than 98 pounds (seven stone) and was a US double zero (UK size zero). 

Hannah Durbin (right with a friend), 21, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, says anorexia 'stole her life' 

Hannah Durbin (right with a friend), 21, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, says anorexia 'stole her life' 

Hannah Durbin (right with a friend), 21, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, says anorexia ‘stole her life’ 

She would do three hours of track, followed by another three hours of gymnastics and spent an hour on her cross-trainer before bed each day.

Four years on, she’s now a healthy 147 pounds (10st 5lbs) and a US size 6 (UK size 10), but says: ‘I began my battle with anorexia in high school at the age of sixteen. 

‘It was during this year that I had experienced traumatic loss in nearly all aspects of my life, including the heart-breaking death of a beloved family member that sent me over the edge.

‘When my life started to spin out of control due to the pain of loss and separation from the people who mattered most to me in this life, I clung to the one thing I knew how to fully control – my food. 

Hannah (pictured now) started her battle with anorexia when she was 16 years old after the death of a family member in order to regain some control over her life

Hannah (pictured now) started her battle with anorexia when she was 16 years old after the death of a family member in order to regain some control over her life

Hannah (pictured now) started her battle with anorexia when she was 16 years old after the death of a family member in order to regain some control over her life

At her lowest weight, the student (above now) weighed less than 98 pounds (seven stone) and was a US double zero (UK size zero)

At her lowest weight, the student (above now) weighed less than 98 pounds (seven stone) and was a US double zero (UK size zero)

At her lowest weight, the student (above now) weighed less than 98 pounds (seven stone) and was a US double zero (UK size zero)

‘But, little did I know that this addiction to control would be the kiss of death for me over the next four-years.’

HOW SHE FELT  

Hannah says: ‘Anorexia stole my life away from me – every memory and every moment was tainted by the demon living inside of my head.’

The 21-year-old said that each morning she would wake up with the weight of the world on her shoulders and says the mere act of opening her eyes to a new day seemed nearly impossible. 

She says: ‘The physical exhaustion, mental warfare and emotional breakdowns I dealt with on a daily basis were enough to send me off the deep end with no desire of ever re-discovering my true self.

Hannah (pictured in the grips of anorexia) would do three hours of track, followed by another three hours of gymnastics and spent an hour on her cross-trainer before bed each day

Hannah (pictured in the grips of anorexia) would do three hours of track, followed by another three hours of gymnastics and spent an hour on her cross-trainer before bed each day

Hannah (pictured in the grips of anorexia) would do three hours of track, followed by another three hours of gymnastics and spent an hour on her cross-trainer before bed each day

Four years on, she's now a healthy 147 pounds (10st 5lbs) and a UK size 10, but says: 'I began my battle with anorexia in high school at the age of sixteen

Four years on, she's now a healthy 147 pounds (10st 5lbs) and a UK size 10, but says: 'I began my battle with anorexia in high school at the age of sixteen

Four years on, she’s now a healthy 147 pounds (10st 5lbs) and a UK size 10, but says: ‘I began my battle with anorexia in high school at the age of sixteen

Hannah says: 'When my life started to spin out of control due to the pain of loss and separation from the people who mattered most to me in this life, I clung to the one thing I knew how to fully control - my food'

Hannah says: 'When my life started to spin out of control due to the pain of loss and separation from the people who mattered most to me in this life, I clung to the one thing I knew how to fully control - my food'

Hannah says: ‘When my life started to spin out of control due to the pain of loss and separation from the people who mattered most to me in this life, I clung to the one thing I knew how to fully control – my food’

‘I surrendered to the illness and let it take over my mind, body and soul. I was a rag doll to the demon within me.

‘Anorexia swallowed me alive without hesitation or remorse. I was a puppet to this demon’s commands. He was ruthless and relentless. And the scariest part of all – I couldn’t escape him.’

HANNAH’S DAY-TO-DAY LIFE BEFORE

  • Three hours of track
  • Three hours of gymnastics
  • An hour on her cross-trainer before bed
  • Consume only 800 calories

She makes it clear that an eating disorder is not a choice, extreme diet or a chase for aesthetic perfection or breathtaking beauty. 

HOW SHE FEELS NOW  

Since overcoming anorexia, Hannah has learnt to love herself for who she is and says she will embrace her life-long recovery, but admits the fear of the unknown was a daunting prospect at the start. 

She has shared her story on her website, writing: ‘I am today, standing before you as a survivor. 

‘I refuse to put my life back into the hands of someone else. I am living, breathing and thriving in this beautiful world as a soldier.

‘I was done going through the motions of life without experiencing any of the joy that comes along with it. I needed to fight. 

‘I found myself, and fell in love with the girl that I found. Today, and everyday, I appreciate this girl and love each and every part of her. 

Hannah (now) says: 'Anorexia stole my life away from me - every memory and every moment was tainted by the demon living inside of my head'

Hannah (now) says: 'Anorexia stole my life away from me - every memory and every moment was tainted by the demon living inside of my head'

Hannah (now) says: ‘Anorexia stole my life away from me – every memory and every moment was tainted by the demon living inside of my head’

Since overcoming anorexia (above), Hannah has learnt to love herself for who she is and says she will embrace her life-long recovery, but admits the fear of the unknown was a daunting prospect at the start

Since overcoming anorexia (above), Hannah has learnt to love herself for who she is and says she will embrace her life-long recovery, but admits the fear of the unknown was a daunting prospect at the start

Since overcoming anorexia (above), Hannah has learnt to love herself for who she is and says she will embrace her life-long recovery, but admits the fear of the unknown was a daunting prospect at the start

Hannah (pictured above today) admits the battle is far from over but she promises to never give up the fight

Hannah (pictured above today) admits the battle is far from over but she promises to never give up the fight

Hannah (pictured above today) admits the battle is far from over but she promises to never give up the fight

The fitness fanatic describes her family as being relieved when they see how far she has come and wants to encourage others to not stay chained to a life living with an eating disorder

The fitness fanatic describes her family as being relieved when they see how far she has come and wants to encourage others to not stay chained to a life living with an eating disorder

The fitness fanatic describes her family as being relieved when they see how far she has come and wants to encourage others to not stay chained to a life living with an eating disorder

‘I am so unbelievably proud of who I am because I worked my ass off to get here.’ 

Hannah admits the battle is far from over but said she has vowed to never give up the fight.

WHAT HER FAMILY THINK 

She describes her family as being relieved to see how far she has come and wants to encourage others to not stay chained to a life living with an eating disorder.

Hannah explains: ‘The sense of relief I can see in eyes of my loved ones is unlike anything I have ever experienced. 

‘My family reminds me on a daily occasion of their pride and admiration for my continual progress.’

She adds: ‘My friends claim that my rediscovered smile is contagious, and that my recovery has inspired them to overcome their internal battles.

‘I constantly reminded myself in the midst of my recovery to take a step back and reflect on what is truly important to me in my life – my family, friends, passions, goals, relationships, and so many more.

Hannah tries to constantly remind herself to take a step back and reflect on what is truly important to her in her life

Hannah tries to constantly remind herself to take a step back and reflect on what is truly important to her in her life

Hannah tries to constantly remind herself to take a step back and reflect on what is truly important to her in her life

She says: 'Work to discover what you love about yourself as a person, beyond your physical outer shell. That is where your true value lies'

She says: 'Work to discover what you love about yourself as a person, beyond your physical outer shell. That is where your true value lies'

She says: ‘Work to discover what you love about yourself as a person, beyond your physical outer shell. That is where your true value lies’

‘Nowhere on that list do I hold my weight or size as a priority, because those aspects of my life are not the source of my happiness or the solution to any of my problems. Our bodies are our outer shells, but they do not have the ability to provide love, peace or happiness.

‘Lastly, my biggest piece of advice is to make yourself uncomfortable. Remaining in your comfort zone will not lead to any type of progress. 

‘Do things that scare you, eat things that make you nervous, try new coping skills, skip a day at the gym, wear a new outfit you’ve been afraid to put on, be spontaneous. 

Work to discover what you love about yourself as a person, beyond your physical outer shell. That is where your true value lies.’ 

Source


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