As the title states, lately I’ve realised the incredible power that mental illnesses can have. Yes, I guess you call it a rough patch…
I call these periods ‘patches’, because yes it is temporary and yes it can be fixed. It’s all a matter of changing your mentality. However, just because it’s seems only small, doesn’t mean it’s easy to overcome. That doesn’t mean it will just go away.
Recovery is by all means a challenge, but it is most definitely not as challenging as living life with the wrath of an eating disorder. Particularly in times of stress and anxiety – I occasionally choose to let my intuitive eating habits fall through in order to ‘cope’. Lately, this came to my realisation, and the power of mental illness really became obvious.
To ‘deal’ or ‘cope’ with my stress and worries, I have of late, been making subtle little excuses that are not beneficial to my health. I know I know…this seems contradicting right? Surely in times of stress and worry, I should be focusing on whats good for me – getting enough sleep, fuelling and nourishing myself well, and trying to maintain some sort of balance?
But no, sadly thats not always the case. Even though they may only be small actionS, such as pushing my lunch out by an hour or missing breakfast in the morning… I have found myself here. If there is one thing I’ve learnt about mental illnesses over the past 4 years, its that they are relentless. Just when you think you are doing well, and in times where you seem to have beaten it for good, it often manages to creep in.
Don’t get me wrong… This is NOT a post asking for sympathy.
I am writing this post to start holding myself more accountable for my life. It’s about time I got mad about the last few problems of my eating disorder, and remember the reasons why I can’t let it slip back into my life when times get stressful. It’s time to actually count my blessings in life, the moments of happiness that fill me with joy.
Some of these may seem blunt; others will seem crazy, especially to those reading with little experience in disordered eating thoughts or patterns. But the reality is – being honest with yourself is the only way to realise and achieve changes in life. In writing this – I hope that some of these reminders can help anyone else out there struggling, or help you in moments where you feel slightly weighed down and vulnerable.
Sometimes I forget how far I have come, and when I do… these are the ideas and reminders that I fall back on. These are reminders of choosing recovery is important. These are realisations that I have. And these are the ideas that we must ALL never forget.
Regardless of whether you are embarking on ED recovery, have recovered from a bad relationship with food, or just happen to know someone going through something similar… I hope that these recovery reminders may help you in some way.
Reminders of Why to Choose Recovery
I am not that bad yet/ I am not sick enough…
Let go of this stupid idea. Stop just blaming it on having an eating disorder, YOU are sick and YOU are also enough. Thats where the relationship ends. Find and remember your self worth. What satisfaction would you genuinely feel if you were to get as small as the girl next to you? None. Absolutely no satisfaction at all. Remember this.
Remember that making your outsides match your insides does not mean that someone will see the physical and mental pain that you are in. Physical pain will never compare with your emotional and mental suffering, and you have to stop hurting your body to validate this suffering. There is no scale of being sick, and being sick does not changes your worth. You are still worthy of life.
I am the only one hurting.
You know this is never true, so stop using it as an excuse to continue your horrible eating disorder behaviour. Eating disorders are isolating, so yes, sometimes its very easy to fall into the trap seeing only individual damages. But turn around and take a look at mum and dad, your entire family for that matter. Take a look at the friends around you who are concerned for not only your day to day health, but also your life. The girl who reached out to you the other day… she wants you to be happy and it DOES hurt them to see you this way.
Get offline ASAP
Take a break from the online world… and stop comparing yourself to others and their eating patterns. Remember that that is their life not yours, and that way of living must not determine how you choose live yours. Would you jump off a cliff without a cord just because someone else decided to kill themselves? NO. So stop the comparison and get offline. Choose your health every time.
You cannot just eat ‘healthy’ foods right now (for those in recovery)
Accept and allow your body to change. You need to be able to let your body gain weight, eat foods you never thought you could, and gain. Yes you may need to gain. Do the ‘lazy’ thing your mind tells you not too; let yourself lie in bed for the morning if that is what you desire. Remember what YOU want. Ultimately, you want to be able to eat everything without anxiety. You want to have a good relationship with exercise. You need and want flexibility.
You cannot compare your recovery journey with someone else’s.
You are you, and each recovery journey is individual and unique. Each journey will NEVER be the same as anyone else, despite having similar personality characteristics or body compositions to others who have may have suffered too. This idea also goes for your relapses, and you cannot get caught up in comparing your failures and triumphs to someone else’s. One person may relapse eight times before they finally let go of their disorder. Another, may never go down that path again.
The only commonality between eating disorders that is valid… is that your life is hell. Remember that.
Get your A into G and seek help now (recovery)
Yes.. for those looking to recover, this may mean scheduling yet another therapy session with the person you have convinced yourself to hate. Truth is, therapy is the crucial medicine for helping mental illnesses, and you wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to avoid chemotherapy in order to aid their recovery – so don’t go fooling yourself that you don’t need it. You don’t actually hate them, you only hate the fact that they might cause you to alter your bad behaviours in hope of doing good. Therapy can help to change your thoughts and patterns, and gives you an opportunity to speak your mind and worries. Go. Even if it means stepping outside of your comfort zone.
You pick your friends, so stop picking your disorder.
Its vital to remember that your eating disorder is not your friend. Your eating disorder does not give you anything, all it is does it take. You are in misery and pain because of this stupid thing in your head, convincing you that you are worthless and a waste of space. Would your best friend do that? NO. Well not a good one anyway! So learn to let go of this friendship. It is never going to make you happy, beautiful or content. You will never feel enough. Let go, and focus on what you want in life.
Find and love the friends and family who are trying to support you.
Hold on tight to the people who are choosing to give you love and care. They are super important, just as you are. Also, remember that not everyone is suited to helping you recover. Be prepared to accept that some people do leave throughout the duration of your eating disorder, and new and amazing people will enter. Figure out who are the most important and caring people, and be open with them.
Remember….you are most definitely not a burden. You only become a burden when you choose to avoid recovery, when you choose to lie and cheat. Truth is, they don’t believe one word and they do know what you are doing. When they ask to help and support you, accept it and say yes. Be open and honest, because you need them.
Find joy in things that you truly love, and seek areas of your life that provide distraction from your eating disorder behaviour and thought patterns. This space will fill what might have previously been your exercise addiction, your obsession with weight and scales, or the time you spent endlessly counting calories. Stop fooling yourself into ‘liking’ these things, you most definitely do NOT. Be prepared to try something new and say yes to exciting opportunities, regardless of whether they involve food or not. Take that chance.
Please remember that you are so worthy of life, and that whatever struggle you are currently going through – you NEVER have to get there alone. Seek help, choose recovery. It will be worth it in the end… I promise.