One of the best things about recovery for me is now being able to help others come to understand their eating disorders and get the help the they need and deserve. Whether this be by sharing my story, speaking to people about their personal struggles and now fundraising for the charity that helped me turn my life around.
There are so many different things you can do to help with recovery. Some methods work better for others and it’s okay if one doesn’t suit you, it’s nothing to be frustrated or embarrassed about. At the end of the day, people learn from many different techniques in school or work – and your mental health is no different.
Through First Steps ED, I had many hours of counselling that helped me explore my ideas around food and body image, and discuss my triggers and trauma that caused my eating disorder. This was great but it wasn’t just that that made me recover.
Another therapy technique that I did with First Steps ED was going out for food within the ICS service. This involved having conversations about my meals and talking through what was going on in my head as I was eating so I could challenge these negative thoughts straight away. This was one of the most beneficial methods of therapy as I wasn’t letting my thoughts build up and feel more guilty later. Eventually this enabled me to do this myself when it came to meal times, but the skills I learnt from my therapist there were invaluable and is something that I use even now if I have a negative thought; and helps me tackle these before they become an issue.
I made flash cards in my sessions that had reasons and reminders of why I wanted recovery and what recovery meant to me. I want to be able to make my own decisions. I want to feel healthy. I want to be able to have my own family. I carried these cards round with me for a long time and if I was struggling with a meal I would get these cards out and remind myself of the reasons that I did deserve that meal and why I wanted to recover.
So many of these coping strategies were taught to me by First Steps ED and I will forever be grateful. Now I am recovered I am able to give back to First Steps ED and help them assist others in their journey and better understand themselves and their thoughts. One way I am doing this is running a 15K tough mudder which is a 15k race in the mud… with obstacles. I am now at a point where I have a healthy relationship with food and exercise, and this is something that I have wanted to do for many years but never been well enough to do. If you’d have told me that I’d be healthy enough to do this 5 years ago I wouldn’t have believed it for a second, but here I am now doing the things that I thought were impossible. Recovery being one of them.
First Steps ED have helped change so many people’s lives and I hope with the money that I raise they will not only be able to help more people but also raise more awareness around eating disorders to help more people understand the relationship between mental health, body image and food so they can too help people with eating disorders.