How would you explain your identity differs now from when your ED voice was at its loudest?
Eating disorders can steal so much of our identity it’s hard to know who we truly are without them. Whilst I feel my personality has been hugely impacted by my difficulties with food I am learning to recognise that there’s so much to me besides an eating problem.
I have my interests and hobbies, my job which I enjoy and take pride in, my relationships with wonderful friends and family and my core values. Though at times compromised – these things remain so important to me and are worth fighting for during times when I feel weak at the hands of my eating disorder.
Did you still feel like there were parts of yourself (hopes, dreams and passions) throughout the time you were struggling with your ED?
Throughout my struggles, I still have strong hopes and dreams for my future. They may change depending on my mood or positivity levels, but they are always present. I want to be happy and content in my own skin, I want to live a life that does not involve food restriction and I want to use my experiences to do good, hopefully benefitting others in the process.
That last one is fast becoming a passion of mine and a strong motivation for improvement. If I can somehow take what I have been through and make someone else’s journey a less turbulent one then I feel my battles have served a purpose. I want to be well so that I can help others feel better too.
I currently access regular support for my eating disorder and this has become an invaluable part of my recovery process. Having people who listen, guide my thought patterns and help me to alter my outlook is so vital and it’s really hard to imagine where I would be without it. It helps me to see a way forward and replaces negative thoughts with much more constructive ones – something I could not do alone.
I feel hope for the future as a result of my appointments because the focus is always on my attributes, skills and abilities outside of my difficulties with eating, and it’s easy to lose sight of these without the help of others.
Although I spend a great deal of my time trying to block out thoughts of my future, I am starting to see myself living without such a prominent problem with food. I feel acceptance is key and so I appreciate I may always experience some level of disharmony with eating but I am beginning to imagine a time when it’s not a daily occurrence.
This has only been possible by spending time in appointments focusing on life without an eating disorder and looking at all of the other positive factors in my life.
If you could give advice to someone experiencing something similar to what you experienced, what would you say?
Recovering from an eating disorder on your own without support is virtually impossible. I spent months denying that I needed help or that my problem was severe enough to warrant it – and on reflection that was such a waste! It’s really important to confide in someone and ask them to support your efforts to get help.
Perseverance is key and there’s a reason why eating disorders can take a long time to recover from so never feel like encountering hurdles is a reason to give up. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to make a change and found it tough but I’m still here trying my hardest and making progress at my own pace.
Sharing is key and the secrecy involved in eating disorders is what gives them their strength. So break down its power and it will start to weaken. I found it so beneficial to confide in trustworthy family members and friends as well as First Steps staff and medical professionals.
They all help me to see things differently and alter my thinking and that has been completely invaluable to me in recent months.