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She Used To Only Consume 300 Calories A Day. Now, She's Using Art To Help Others Struggling With Anorexia.

"My ED was an unhealthy way of communicating that pain. Art has become my alternative."

When Christie Begnell went through a tough breakup at the age of 19, she turned to food as a coping mechanism. At first, she ate unhealthy foods and did some wallowing, but eventually, she started to severely restrict her calorie intake. Her anorexia became so bad that she was only taking in 300 calories a day. The only things she consumed were water, Diet Coke, and energy drinks. 

Luckily, the psychiatrist Begnell was seeing for her depression noticed the signs quickly and got her help for her eating disorder. "But that voice is still in my head, every day, telling me not to eat because I'm too big or too fat," the now 24-year-old Australian told The Mirror

Begnell turned to art to help her communicate her thoughts and feelings. Her illustrations give an accurate picture of what it can be like to suffer from an eating disorder

"No one really understood what I meant, so I started drawing what was going on," Begnell said. "I gave the voice inside my head a name, Ana, and I'd draw all the things Ana was promising me and telling me to do. It was really helpful, and now that I'm on the road to recovery, I decided to put it together as a book to help others."

Begnell created the illustrations to express the way her eating disorder made her feel and they helped her loved ones better understand what she was going through. "My ED was an unhealthy way of communicating that pain. Art has become my alternative," she wrote on her website. She has compiled some of her illustrations into a book titled Me and My ED in hopes that sharing them with other people struggling with eating disorders. 

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While Begnell is now in recovery and is a healthy weight at a U.S. size 8, she still struggles with negative thoughts at times.

"'Ana' is still in my head. She always will be. That's why my drawings have helped so much. It can be really hard to verbalize what's going on, and the illustrations have helped explain it," Begnell said. "I really hope that by releasing a book of my artwork, it will help other people living with anorexia. Not only can they use the book to show others how they're feeling and what's going on inside, but I want these sufferers to know they're not alone."

You can see some of her illustrations below:

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