16 February 2016
One Obstacle at a Time...
With every day comes a struggle. Sometimes these may be significant and others, practically unnoticeable. The majority of the time these struggles are related to food and these are the most obvious issues. Most days I experience repeated thoughts about what food to have in relation to the ‘food rules’ I have in my mind, however, I am determined not to let these control me anymore. With my new community dietician, I have written out these rules and every week I am going to challenge at least 3 of them whilst creating my meal plan. I feel like if I can nail these, then I will be well on my way to full recovery and be able to enjoy my life slightly more carefree.
The less obvious issues that I continually face are more related to my feelings and emotions. Lack of confidence, low self esteem and thoughts about not deserving things are prominent in my everyday life. Regarding my previous problem with university, I strongly believe that my anorexia was so powerful at this time that I really was in no frame of mind whatsoever to have embarked on this venture at that stage of my life. I was already riddled with thoughts of not being good enough, doubting my ability to succeed and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life after the fashion degree, that I was almost destined to leave. At this point, my thoughts were uncontrollable; I couldn’t stop them, fight them or dismiss them. All I could do was believe them; it was the easiest way to acknowledge and deal with them. Having those destroying thoughts in my mind, teamed with the feeling of inability to say anything to anybody about my struggles, it was inevitable that my health was going to suffer. I think the problem was that I couldn’t recognise what was happening to me at this point. I felt completely normal. I thought it was just a phase that everybody went through when they first started university, but it was only when the panic attacks started and the irrepressible crying, that I knew I needed to do something. It sounds crazy, but it is only as I write this blog, months after all of this happened, that I can now make connections between my mental state and my incapacity to remain at university at that time. Obviously I feel stronger now, and this is why I have chosen to embark on this venture again. The feelings do still surface the more I think about going back, but I have found that throughout my recovery, the build up of anticipation is far more anxiety provoking than the actual event itself. Therefore, I am not concerned about these thoughts at this time, and I have already established a plan for if these continue when I arrive at university in a few months time.
For the majority of my time in treatment I have tried to convince myself that the only obstacles I have faced have been the challenges related to food. However, I think that this has just been due to a fear of unraveling the underlying beliefs that I had about myself. I always envisaged myself as a strong, confident and outgoing woman; so the thought of investigating my actual mental state, consequently uncovering exactly how I felt about myself, scared me. I didn’t want to accept the fact that I was at this point weak, uncertain and introverted, but I needed to in order to discover why I developed this eating disorder, and what it was serving me.
As I started to delve into my past, it became evident that there was really no pivotal moment in what initiated my problems. As listed in my previous post, there are several triggers that I can pin point, but in fact there have been lots of seemingly insignificant installments in my life, that were unknowingly contributing to the creation of this illness. The majority of my problems stem from the beliefs I had about success. I was utterly convinced that success was solely based on both academic and career achievements. I couldn’t just do my best, I had to be the best; and this was a harmful mindset right from the start of my schooling. It cost me my social life, my hobbies and my interests; it drove me to pursue academic routes that I wasn’t interested in; and it caused an absurd amount of damage to my mental health.
However, it is these obstacles that have shaped me to become the person that I am today. If I hadn’t have acknowledged these obstacles and challenged them, then I wouldn’t have reevaluated my life and values as much as I have to this date. I have to say that this has not happened because of the reasons I hoped it would, as it hasn’t exactly been an easy rediscovery and reeducation. There are so many things that I would change about my past; mostly my vulnerability to the detrimental influences that have had such an excruciating effect on my life. However, there is no point in thinking about what could have, would have or should have happened; it didn’t, and that cannot be changed. Instead, I must focus on the positives that it has brought to my life.
I know that most people, who suffer with a mental illness, wish that they could just completely draw a line under it and forget it never happened. At first, I was one of these people and vowed that I would never want to revisit this part of my life. However, I strongly believe that although this illness was the breaking of me, the recovery process has most definitely been the making of me. Particularly through writing this blog, I am finding that I am being able to project the personal qualities that I am proud of- my desire to help others, being a good communicator and being honest. I am reminded of this every time I receive a lovely comment about my efforts, and it has an incredibly positive effect on my self belief- something that was minimal prior to my recovery. This is enough evidence for me to realise that obstacles are just that, a slight bump in the road, not a definitive end. That is why every time I am faced with one of these daunting obstructions, I remember just how many I have overcome in such a short space of time, so why should this one be any different?