21 February 2016

One Motivation at a Time...

I cannot even begin to put into words just how important motivation is throughout recovery. Whether it is self motivation, messages from others, or tangible incentives, these are genuinely what give you the push to fight another day.

After being diagnosed with Anorexia, I honestly believed that I was enthused with self motivation to recover. However, as my inability to accept what I had to do was getting stronger and stronger, my mind and body were becoming weaker and weaker. Every time I tried to challenge one of my behaviours, I would have something else there telling me “just do it tomorrow.” This way I still felt as though I was motivated because it wasn’t as if I was completely dismissing the idea of change, I was just going to do it a bit later. Obviously this is not the way to achieve recovery. There is no time to ‘just do it tomorrow’; it is seriously a case of now or never.

Particularly whilst trying to challenge ‘fear foods’, I found that I was saying to my parents that I would try it next week, then as the next week arrived, I would repeat the same sentence. I was preparing the same things over and over again, eating the same things over and over again, and consuming it in the same manner over and over again. It becomes a cycle, and at the time it seems so much easier to just keep rolling with it, as it causes enough anxiety as it is, so considering altering it in some way just seemed barbaric. I was bored of what I was eating; I was desperate to try new things, or even consume the things that I had done previously in my life, but then I would feel guilty for even thinking about these potential ideals. I convinced myself that I hated foods, and some foods I couldn’t even come near to, because if I could smell them then the fear of being tempted to try some was overwhelming. I just wanted to pluck up the courage to push the boundaries that my anorexia had set out in front of me, and all that I needed was motivation- a realisation that there was something beyond these restrictions.

Unfortunately I was so weak in both mind and body that this motivation didn’t come very readily to me. I could see, talk and dream about all of the incentives to get better, but doing what I had to do to achieve them was far beyond what my mind was allowing. However, as my therapy in hospital started and the constant reminders from the staff became a prominent part of my everyday conversations, I started to feel the desire to push myself. Granted, I didn’t have a choice about what I ate, apart from the selection of one of three meal options, but soon I began choosing foods that I wanted, not my anorexia. This took a lot of time, but the motivation to exceed what I had limited myself to gained strength. Nevertheless, there were times in hospital where I began to doubt my desire to succeed with the treatment plan. The prospect of being able to go home at the weekend became the biggest incentive for me to get better, but I started to question whether this was for positive or negative reasons. I am going to be honest and say that at first I saw the weekends at home as an opportunity for a break. Nobody watching me 24/7, making sure that I don’t move around too much, making sure that I eat everything on my plate and making sure that I challenge my eating behaviours. However, I soon realised that even if I was weak enough to fall back into my old habits, my parents certainly were not. At first this caused me a lot of distress, as my anorexia made me angry that I could not fulfil the ‘mission’ that I had come home with. On the other hand, I tried to channel my parents’ determination to keep me on the straight and narrow, into my own motivation. As with all aspect of recovery, this isn’t easy to accept, and trying to prove to your anorexia that there is something better and more worthwhile to listen to, is definitely a challenge.  

I wish I could have had the strength to improve my health and wellbeing without the intervention of hospital, but it just was not possible. I do have to say that I have spoken to people who have managed to do it, and I completely admire them for their fight and determination. I am not ashamed that this wasn’t a possibility for me. At that point in my life I was just too weak and overruled by something that became a bigger part of me than my actual self. If anything, I think that asking to go into hospital still showed motivation, it was just a way of accepting that I wasn’t capable of doing it myself.

Now that I am no longer receiving full time treatment, the need for self motivation is more paramount than ever, and this isn’t easy. I dream of a time where I wake up and feel optimistic every day, but even I know that this wouldn’t be normal. I believe that if I have more good days than bad, then I know that I am doing something right. I still struggle with knowing if my desires are led by my anorexia or myself, and this can be really difficult to deal with. I constantly doubt my motivations, such as wanting to go swimming, picking food items at the supermarket, or picking something from the menu whilst having a meal out. I am so skeptical about my decision making, and I believe that is because it still frightens me just how much the disorder took over this role, and now I am unsure just who or what is carrying out this function. I know that as I continue to rediscover myself, these decisions will solely be my own, and I look forward to experiencing this. I just need to keep using the motivation within myself and from those around me, to allow me to reach that point.

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