‘Do I actually want to get better?’
A question that has occupied most of my thoughts for weeks now as I’ve batted from one side of the argument to the other.
I’ll be honest, there are times when the answer is a firm ‘NO!’ because the idea of it is just too hard to comprehend.
‘I can’t go back to how I was.’
‘How will I cope with the physical changes?’
‘If I alter my routine I’ll lose control!’
That’s where I am right now.
I’ve just started the process and it’s already been very challenging to accept the necessary adjustments.
I know I’ll have to increase my daily food intake and then try to cope with that full feeling I would usually avoid.
I will also have to literally ‘take steps’ to lessen my exercise levels and stop burning off calories as I have been doing.
This makes me really anxious and feels like too huge a task to even attempt.
But I have also had some glimmers of positivity.
Let’s face it – I can’t go through the rest of my life like this. Depriving myself of food, feeling moody, weak and completely obsessed with food and exercise, damaging my health, relationships with family and friends and possibly even risking my job.
Whilst it gets me through the days and is a source of great comfort to me at times, it’s also made me feel more angry, hopeless, paranoid and sad than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I don’t want to feel like this any longer!
Genuinely I don’t. But trying to change feels so hard too.
So I’m breaking it down into what seems like smaller, more manageable steps.
I was the most reluctant driver you could ever have come across. Whilst all of my friends at sixth form were excitedly getting driving lessons and cars for their 18th birthdays – I couldn’t think of anything worse.
I waited a further three years before I felt capable of even booking a lesson. I was fed up of relying on buses and lifts from my parents (as were they!) and desperately needed to get myself to work and uni.
I just thought: ‘what harm can one lesson do? If I don’t like it I won’t book another’ and that’s what got me to make a start on the lengthy process that was learning to drive and passing my theory and practical tests (on the first attempt in both cases I’d like to add!)
It’s possibly an odd comparison, but starting the road to ED recovery is kind of the same. You have to break it down into smaller steps, using suggestions like the below, so that it doesn’t feel like a mountain to climb.
Seek help (preferably professional)
My family and friends continue to be wonderful pillars of support to me but ultimately, I need to work with a professional team to make the main improvements that I can’t do alone.
First Steps have been key in this by providing regular support groups and one-to-ones with likeminded and empathetic people and the referral to an NHS service where I am now attending weekly appointments that are beginning to make a difference.
Confide in people
There will be always be those individuals who neither understand our struggle nor care to try, but I feel absolutely blessed to have close relatives and a handful of amazing friends who are truly there for me. They listen to my woes, cheer my achievements (however small) and I know I can confide in them whenever I need to.
If you really feel alone with no one to turn to then First Steps offers online befriending and BEAT has a web chat service to support people with concerns about themselves and others.
Whilst I’ve found myself relying on the internet for all kinds of destructive information lately, it’s also a brilliant tool when used properly.
There are some great blogs and articles, forums, websites and really positive social media channels out there. And if you can’t find the right one for you – why not start your own?
In this digital age, it’s easy to forget the value of reading a book – especially a well-written self-help guide that explains how to recover and lays the steps out clearly for us to follow.
I’ve always believed we have to cleanse our minds before we can start on our bodies and so have one or two great books on the go at the moment that were written by sufferers and experts and really help me to understand why I feel the way I do.
Find another focus
When we consider the amount of time, headspace and energy we devote to our eating disorders, it’s amazing to think what other more productive things we could channel all of that effort into if we tried.
So I’m striving to fill my time with other things; little distractions and new focuses like photography, blogging, colouring, volunteering and hobbies/interests and I have to say it really helps. It broadens the mind and makes you aware of how much more there is to life besides worrying about food all of the time.
Get an incentive
We all work better if we know we’ll be rewarded for our efforts, so I’m trying to find incentives to help me improve.
These could be things you might treat yourself to if you increase your intake or BMI a little – I really want a Fitbit but at the moment I’d misuse it so I need to get a little better first. I’ve also promised myself I’ll finally get a tattoo when I’m healthier so watch this space!
As well as tangible things, you could endeavour to make some lifestyle changes too. I’ve toyed with doing a master’s degree and possibly going into a different line of work for a while now and that’s a great goal to work towards when I’m back on top form.
I hope you can find some motivation in there and something strikes a chord with you.
Keep going – it’s a long road but it’s worth it!