Halloween is indisputably a huge annual celebration. So much so, it was estimated that us Brits spent £310 million on Halloween in 2016 alone.
And yet it seems counterintuitive to celebrate the things us mere mortals fear the most. So why is it so much fun? And how on earth is this related to recovering from an eating disorder?
Let me have a go at it…
- On Halloween, we take an active role in facing our fears
I grew up in the countryside, so a big Halloween favourite was to walk down silent, pitch-black country roads, where the likelihood of bumping into an axe-wheeling zombie-farmer was second to none (…of course…).
But it’s that element of agency – of us putting ourselves there – that triggers a tingle of excitement around the edges of fear. We take the most spine-chilling situations we can think of, and very deliberately put ourselves right in the middle of them.
We feel powerful, but vulnerable…and know we can always run back to our friends if needed.
Recovery lesson number 1: What’s your personal recovery challenge? If you really want to face it, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you but yourself. Embrace the fear – decide to be fearless. You’re a lot more courageous than you realise.
- Finding solidarity in the fear
When deliberately walking into Halloween-y situations, we have some respite in the fact that we’re not alone in our plight. There’s usually a gaggle of screaming girls and boys around us, or a parental figure nearby keeping an eye out.
Recovery lesson number 2: Find your people (or ‘spiritual family’ as we call them at The Recover Clinic) and use their support. Too often people enter treatment wanting to go at it alone and stay isolated from communal support. But this support is actually crucial to finding your individual path and becoming a strong, independent person.
- Making light of something we’d otherwise run away from
Part of what makes Halloween such a unique celebration is how we’re able to make light of things that would otherwise terrify us. It’s an opportunity for us to laugh in the face of fear, making it a moment of shared happiness – and this is what eating disorder recovery can be all about!
Recovery is a really hard slog, but it’s only because we’re going through a process of healing – we are literally recovering from something.
And yet, one of the loveliest things about working in the clinic is hearing our clients’ explosive laughter from downstairs. They may be suffering from (and recovering from) an awful illness…but by the sounds of it, they’re having a really good time supporting one another through it.
Recovery lesson number 3: Take more opportunities to make light of something that would otherwise pull you into a place of darkness. The eating disorder is only an ingrained pattern of thought – break that pattern with laughter and human connection.
So, what scares you? Does it need to hold that power over you?