In one of the good feel stories to come out in the new year, followers are extended good will after one 18 year old woman, Antonia Eriksson has come with sheer grit and some new self revelations to overcome her bout with anorexia to make a full recovery.
So bad had the teenager’s bout with anorexia become she had found herself with a heart and organs that were beginning to give up as well as bones which were weak and reflexes failing to work.
Yet rather than give up, the young woman checked into hospital in September 2012 in a bid to beat her disease.
Yet whilst many would choose to keep their torrid condition out of the limelight, the Swedish teenager used instagram to document her difficult road to recovery and show followers that it was indeed possible to make a recovery.
‘It took me a while before I decided to share my identity. So I had this account alongside my personal [Instagram account] to track my recovery, and then it grew and changed into what it is today.’
Today, Erikson’s account is brimming with body-positive messages, photos of the teen working out and healthy meals she’s prepared for herself.
Yet it hasn’t been an easy road. Eriksson’s 15 month journey to self redemption was fraught with deep anguish and the real knowledge that if she couldn’t revive her days might be numbered.
When she was first admitted to hospital, Eriksson only weighed 84 pounds and attests fearing she wouldn’t survive another night.
The Instagram photos were grim, with pictures of her hospital bed, thin frame and gaunt features.
But after two months in hospital, Eriksson overcame her demons, developed a healthy eating plan and got her life back on track.
It wasn’t until February 2013 that the beleaguered teen reached a healthy weight again.
These days Antonia Eriksson’s instagram account shows her posing in the gym, flashing her toned muscly physique and the nutritious food she prepares.
In reckoning with her recovery, the teen tells that keeping an Instagram account helped in her battle against anorexia.
‘Instagram helped me a lot. I found other people who felt the same way or were struggling with battles like my own,’
‘We supported each other a lot and when I was feeling low I could always turn to my ‘Instagram family’ for support and advice.
‘I felt I had a responsibility since I had a lot of followers who looked up to me and saw me as an inspiration … it became very important to me to recover in a good way and to stay healthy. To show people that it was possible and worth it.’
Helping the teen was her coming to full disclosure of her identity and one surmises her actual lot (which is often part of the actual road to recovery) when she made the shift from the anonymous @fightinganorexia to the identifiable @eatmoveimprove.
Tells the teen: ‘Today I don’t see my account as an inspiration for recovery, but for being recovered, [for being] healthy, if you see the difference,’
‘Anorexia is part of my history and a disease I once had, but it does not define me as a person.
‘Today I share my life, what I love to do, and who I am. Anorexia is not a part of that, but it was, and I still want to be a support and inspiration for people who are struggling.’
And in a sign in how the teen has improved and gotten a grip of her life, Eriksson also now runs a fitness blog, EATMOVEIMPROVE, where she answers questions about herself, her health and eating disorders in general.
Nevertheless the teen has confided she is very careful about what she shares online.
‘People ask how much I weigh or how many calories I eat, and I won’t talk about that. I don’t want to share numbers because I know that triggered me, and I don’t want that to be what my account is about,’
‘I do post progress pictures, and that took me awhile. But followers were asking how my workouts were going so I decided to share more progress pictures—but I’m quite careful there too: I don’t talk about my body like I do about my progress. It’s not how I look, it’s how much energy I have or what I can lift in the gym.
‘I’ll tell people off when they ask me how to lose weight. Me losing weight was me almost losing my life. You shouldn’t ask me how to do that. That’s like asking me how to commit suicide.
‘I try to teach people who don’t understand. I’ll tell them what they doing and asking me is wrong; an eating disorder is not something to strive for.’
Which raises the awkward question, in the face of a miraculous recovery why are there so many young women resolute about losing weight or maintaining pixel thin aesthetics in the first place and what does that suggest about the way women perceive themselves and the expectations they feel from a society that so often puts a premium on a woman conditional on her appearances….even if it sometimes means literally killing herself?