Instagram has received a lot of criticism for the negative impact it has on young people’s mental health, but one woman is crediting the social media platform for helping her overcome a six-year battle with anorexia.
22-year-old Emelle Lewis spiralled into a dangerous eating disorder when she was only 15 years old. Despite desperate pleas from her family, Lewis only reached her recovery turning point after being influenced by other anorexia survivors on social media.
It was other people’s journeys that Lewis claims helped save her life. Now, after being in recovery for more than a year, the psychology student hopes to inspire others suffering from eating disorders by sharing her own journey.
Emelle Lewis, from Huddersfield, England, began to feel self-conscious about her body when she was in high school. When her friends began getting boyfriends and she didn’t, the destructive thoughts that she was “fat and ugly” began to plant themselves in her mind.
The 22-year-old began gradually eating less and less and eventually developed an unhealthy obsession with exercise. As she grew increasingly meagre, Lewis refused to recognize her illness and would defend her perpetually shrinking frame to friends by saying she was vegan.
It came to the point where Lewis was living off of not much more than Weetabix, salad and rice cakes. This dismal diet was in addition to keeping herself feverishly active. Emelle would addictively do abdominal exercises and walk her dog to the point where she admits she wouldn’t even sit down until after 4 pm.
Emelle’s harrowing battle with anorexia reached the point where she only weighed 70 pounds and had to be hospitalized seven times. “I genuinely believed I could maintain at that weight and still live a fairly normal life,” Lewis admitted. “I didn’t want to get rid of my eating disorder.”
It was when Emelle started following Instagram accounts of others who have successfully overcome anorexia that she felt inspired to make a change. “I remember lying in bed one day feeling like I was really dying and realizing I had achieved nothing in my life and this is not the way my story is meant to end,” Lewis stated.
“I made a promise to myself that I will fight and I will recover,” Lewis wrote on Instagram. She began by lifting weights and slowly increasing her diet. After 17 months of determination, Emelle now eats six balanced meals a day and admits that she’s the happiest she’s ever felt.
Considering how much of an impact the shared recoveries of other anorexia survivors made on her, Lewis has dedicated her Instagram to documenting her progress. She hopes that by sharing her story, she will be able to inspire others battling eating disorders.
“All those years of suffering taught me some valuable lessons and made me the person I am today,” Emelle wrote to her Instagram followers. “My goal now is to help and inspire everyone else to love themselves and love being alive.”