13 February 2016
One Month of Willpower at a Time...
January is recognised as the month to recreate and rejuvenate. This is evident in all of us as we recite our New Years Resolutions, vowing to make personal changes in an attempt to improve our wellbeing. For most, these include the new possession of a gym membership, the cutting out of a nutritional food group or a goal amount of weight to lose. Except what about if you are trying to recover from an eating disorder? What resolutions do you make for yourself, whilst still trying to achieve the same improvement of your wellbeing along with everybody else? For me, I promised myself that I would continue with my weight restoration meal plan, keep pushing myself to embrace social outings and consistently incorporate everything that I have learnt during recovery into my everyday life. I can imagine that most people are now thinking, “Where is the challenge in that? You have already been doing that for the past six months?” But I would now like everybody to think about everything that is displayed in magazines, on television and all over the media in an attempt to assist the majority of the population in their body manipulation goals.
Before treatment, I didn’t realise just how vulnerable I had been in succumbing to everything that is plastered in the media regarding advice on how to alter your body. It was only through exploration into the triggers that developed my illness that I understood just how weak I was in resisting these messages of guidance. As Christmas drew to a close, the prospect of being exposed to these potential triggers throughout January was daunting. As with most other challenges that I have faced during recovery, I vowed to keep my head down and remind myself of the scientific understanding I have gained about what I need to nurture my own body. However, these weren’t just challenges that could be tackled physically through picking up a knife and fork, these were potential triggers; a prospective facilitator to a relapse or breakdown of the mental structure that I had tirelessly worked on building up.
There were several instances throughout this month where I had to challenge just how susceptible I was in absorbing the information that I was exposed to through the media. Prior to my treatment, I would not consciously recognise just what I was reading, watching or listening to; it would just somehow worm its way into my head, without seeking it out or realising that it was influencing my day to day life. However, I have found that after my treatment I am so much more aware of just how much is in the media regarding weight loss. I think that I notice it more because I am trying so desperately hard not to be consumed back into all of the false messages or beliefs that I am continuing to challenge. I honestly do not think that most individuals would recognise the sheer amount of communications there are out there, purposefully set out to make people alter their lifestyles in order to change their body. Nobody will be able to comprehend just how hard it is to resist these messages whilst you are recovering from an eating disorder. It is not just about trying to ignore them, but I am constantly trying to remind myself just how much I have been through in the past from being so drawn into what they advise.
It is not about avoidance. There is no possible way that you could dodge everything in the media. It is about acceptance. You have to accept that this information is a huge part of our lives, whether it is in conversation, in the newspaper or on social media. We need food and exercise to maintain our wellbeing, and that is why I am striving to build a healthy relationship with them. There have been numerous times where I have heard passing comments about food; what to eat, what not to eat, new diet crazes or fad products. At first I found these a challenge to listen to, but then I come home, read a food diary that I completed before I went into hospital, and am reminded of the scenario that adhering to these silly ideas can create.
I have not stopped watching TV, reading my favourite fashion magazines or browsing on social media because of all of these potential triggers. Why would I want to have this illness restrict me in even more aspects of my life that I enjoy? Instead, I am using it as a way of building up my strength and tolerance. I know that there are going to be times when I doubt what I have been taught in treatment when a new piece of ‘evidence’ is printed in the health column of a publication. I am only human, and journalists know that the majority of people want to read these new findings, otherwise why would they publish them? However this time, the difference will be that I do not let these manipulate and influence my every day life. I am still challenging food rules that have been implemented daily for that past few years, and let me tell you, I do not want any more! I want to abolish these completely and create a healthy, clear and spontaneous frame of mind. I know just how easily these crept into my life, and I just wish they would rid themselves just as quickly.