23 March 2016
One Adventure at a Time...
This post will be split into two parts; the first detailing how I am feeling about my trip away this weekend, and the second is a piece that I wrote the day that I booked my trip to Europe for summer 2016. I wanted to upload the blog post exactly as I initially wrote it for the second part, because I think it is important that I capture the raw emotions and positivity that I experienced on that day.
Another week, another challenge. Although, this is not just one specific event, it is a weekend trip away to Bruges. Like a battlefield, both sides of my brain take their positions, firing away the negative and positive thoughts. But who will win? Right now, fear is taking the lead, as my research into the country and the local cuisine loads more ammunition to the negativity in my mind. But I will not be defeated. The positivity needs nurturing, but after multiple affirmations about how lucky I am to have the opportunity to visit another beautiful city, I try desperately hard to overrule the governing thoughts.
Why do I automatically think about food when I hear about the chance to visit a new place? Why can’t I focus on immersing myself in the culture? Why doesn’t the chance of observing the iconic landmarks override all other thoughts? I cannot get to grips with how my brain works. Even after reading several paragraphs of a wonderful book called ‘The Brain’, which was loaned to me by a very generous colleague, I still struggle to understand why my mind works so differently to how I want it to! All I want is to be happy, healthy and inspiring; yet my own brain fights everything I need and want to do in order to achieve that. But I am going to use my daily motivation, once again, to make sure that I view this weekend as an opportunity to make another crack in the boundaries of my eating disorder.
“I will enjoy myself. I will relax. I will loosen my need for control.” Like an actor learning a script, I repeat these sentences; in the hope that as stated in the previous literature I have mentioned, I do have the ability to retrain my brain. Yet the battle still makes an appearance in this scenario. “I will not put too much pressure on myself. I will acknowledge that there may be difficulties. I will not put myself down if my efforts do not fulfill my expectations.” This division seems somewhat balanced and rational in comparison to the erratic negative/positive battle that I was initially experiencing. This is why I appreciate the cathartic experience that writing my blog gives me, as I have a chance to reflect on my feelings and emotions. My whole mindset has shifted in just a few paragraphs from being anxious and overwhelmed, to calm and open minded about what the weekend brings.
For the past few weeks, I have been researching an array of trips that I want to go on, but there has always been something or someone there saying ‘just wait a little while’, ‘don’t rush’, ‘you don’t have to do everything all at once’. I know all of this, but what is wrong with wanting to do something that my eating disorder doesn’t. Isn’t that what recovery is about? Demonstrating that I am stronger now, and ready to get on with my life? I am aware of the slow pace of recovery, and truth is, I could spend the next few years of my life wondering when I will be ‘fully recovered’. For me, I don’t know what full recovery will look like, but I know that at this stage, I am stronger and I am able to control my anorexic thoughts at a level that I can live at. Meaning that I comply with my meal plan, I eat a balanced diet, and every day I am confronting challenges that I know I can pick away at with time. I have learnt from my holiday in Norway that I can cope in a foreign country, and even though that was with the support of my family, they are only going to be a phone call away. I think when people question my decision to book this trip, I ask them to consider the fact that it is 5 months time. To put it in perspective, 5 months ago I was in hospital, and I have made a substantial amount of progress since then. Whilst I am writing this post, I realise that this is another habit that I need to stop- my need to explain myself. I have made a decision that I am proud of, and incredibly excited about, yet I constantly feel that I need to justify my reasoning behind it. Most likely in an attempt to convince others, and probably myself, that I have made the right choice. I am mindful of the evidence proven to suggest that chances of a relapse within eating disorder recovery are high, and that I have taken a huge risk booking this with a small break before starting university. However, I could end up putting things off for the rest of my life, purely due to not wanting to face the unknown. That isn’t how I want to live, and I will deal with the consequences should things not turn out the positive way I hope.
I want to travel, I want to be adventurous and I want to gain experiences. The past few years haven’t been an easy ride, and I think I deserve to reclaim back an abundance of memories that I have missed out on. I am doing this for me, and I am willing to take the risk, with the self belief that this will just be another step in overcoming this illness.