Today is 8th January 2017 and it is the first time I feel I can safely say I have recovered from my eating disorder.
One week ago today it was New Year’s Day and my life turned upside down. I was told something that would devastate anyone regardless of whether they had an eating disorder or not. Since then I have been exhausted from crying more than I can ever remember doing so before. I feel raw and emotional, yet I haven’t turned to my eating disorder. I haven’t restricted, binged or purged. I don’t even remember when I last did any of those things I just know it was a long time ago. I even got angry that I didn’t have my usual coping mechanisms to deal with my pain, to numb me from my feelings. I can’t physically bring myself to hurt myself any more.
Instead I actually had to feel my emotions, and it’s hard, so so incredibly hard, but I know I will get through this and it will be ok. I no longer fear my feelings, I know that my feelings are valid and this is far better than the alternative. If I was still in the grips of my eating disorder one week ago I dread to think of the state I would be in today. I am still here though, still standing and it’s all thanks to the work I did last year.
Nine months ago I started treatment at The Recover Clinic and I know it was one of the best decisions I ever made. My life has changed so much as a result, though it was unbelievably hard work. Recovery is the most mentally challenging thing I have ever experienced. Constantly battling with your own mind is exhausting and trying to challenge thoughts which have been ingrained in your mind for 12 years is confusing and the fight against them seems never ending at times, but I can tell you in all honesty that it is worth it. Now that I’m not at war with myself it is so incredibly liberating to have peace and quiet in my mind, something I thought was unachievable for me. I was convinced my eating disorder was with me for life, but it’s gone. I’m finally free.
As my therapist would say, recovery isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, as you can see from my blog, my life is not always full of happiness, recovering isn’t a miracle it’s hard work, and awful things do still happen. The difference now is that I can deal with them. Not only that, but when good things happen, which they do once you believe you are capable and worthy, I can now be present and enjoy them, accepting that positive things can and will happen.
As I sat down to write this blog I came across something I wrote just before I started treatment which I wanted to share with you so you could understand my life before the recover clinic.
‘It’s 11.30pm on a Sunday night and here I am again. Wide awake wondering what on earth I should do with my life. Surely it shouldn’t be like this. I’m 26 years old, I’m married, I’m a qualified accountant, I’m supposed to have this thing called life figured out – but I don’t.
I did so well at school – I was always almost top of the class (had it not been for he who shall not be named I would have been top, but as you can tell I’ve managed to let that go…). There were so many expectations for me to achieve great things and make something of my life. I had so much choice I was scared to make a decision in case it was wrong.
Yet I’ve ended up doing exactly what I was determined not to.
I feel like I’m letting them down – letting myself down
My life feels so empty
I feel as though I should be doing something with my life – something worthwhile and meaningful – something I can be proud of- but what?
As with any important life decision I did what any rational person would do. I Googled ‘what should I do with my life?’ Amongst the countless personality based surveys which I have never found useful or even been able to answer easily especially if there is a ‘maybe’ option or just an option in the middle to show indifference, which is basically my feelings towards the majority of life right now, I found an article which asked questions but provided no magical answer.’
Finding and reading this made me burst into tears. It is so upsetting remembering how I felt, how oblivious I was to the fact my eating disorder was the issue, but it is important to me that I recognise how much I have achieved despite how alien it now feels reading about myself a year ago, feeling so disconnected from the person I was compared to who I am today.
The best thing about it is that I now have an answer to the question ‘what should I do with my life?’ I’m going to live. I’m going to do the things that make me happy. I will make decisions in the knowledge that I can change my mind. Life is not fixed, it can be changed. I’m living proof and I intend to keep living.