2 March 2016
One Realistic Reminder at a Time...
Do you ever find that it is so much easier to give advice, than it is to take it in yourself? I am one of these people that can list off so many motivational reasons as to why and how you can achieve a life without the niggling illness that is anorexia. I am forever preaching to other sufferers about how important it is to realise that eating one high calorie item will not make you gain weight, or that they should ignore the rules in their heads because they have no reasoning! Yet, I still find myself constantly putting up a fight with these thoughts in my own mind on a daily basis. When I titled the blog post ‘One Realistic Reminder at a Time…’ this was the first example that came to mind. As I have mentioned multiple times before, I always feel the need to be that one step further than I am. I can dish out advice like I have been recovered for decades, and then as soon as I am faced with a struggle myself, I become angered about the fact that I am not at that expected point in my journey. I suppose in some ways I am as naïve as most of the public in thinking that you can just snap out of a mental illness. Whether this is just my ignorance to the statistics that show recovery can take two to five years, or the fact that I believe that maybe, just maybe, I could be that one exception to the rule that overcomes this illness within months. I hear of stories all the time where people have a ‘lightbulb moment’, and suddenly they do everything to defeat their anorexia. I think my tendency to look at things too literally has again backfired in this case, with me forever waiting for this moment to arrive, and if it doesn’t, the frustration escalates once again.
I feel like I have overcome so much in my recovery, particularly in terms of becoming more accepting of what a healthy balanced diet contains. However, I do sometimes wish that there was just one definitive moment in my life that I knew triggered the illness. This way, I could just work on picking this experience apart and figuring out exactly how and why it occurred; making sure that it does not repeat its impact. Sadly, this is not the case for me, and instead I am working on a variety of potential different triggers that spurred on the illness, to try and prevent a relapse. Some people may think that this would be better than living in fear of one specific moment reoccurring; but I don’t believe it is. My therapy during recovery has lead me to explore a large span of my childhood up until now to try and figure out exactly where my illness stems from, but it has become apparent that this just isn’t going to be possible. This is one of the many realisations that I have had to come to terms with during treatment.
One of the difficult realistic reminders that I have had to deal with is not just the length of time it will take for me to recover, but also that everybody’s perception of recovery is different. For example, I have heard of some people that consider themselves fully recovered when their eating disorder no longer affects them in social situations, or for others it may be that they are no longer in treatment. Again, for me, I don’t know what to expect out of full recovery. Is it when I stop eating food at specific times? Is it when the rules have quietened? Or am I as recovered as I will ever be right at this very moment? It is all a mystery, but not a mystery that I am whole heartedly excited about exploring. What about if this is it for me? What about if I am always going to have these rules and thoughts that determine my everyday life? What if I will never be able to fully accept my body or capabilities in life? These are just a few of the many questions that I think about on top of everything else I am going through. However, with every step forward I take with the help of my community team, family and friends, I experience another realistic reminder that life is built upon the unexpected. If I knew what my life was going to be like after my continued dietetic and psychological support, would I still be striving towards it? Well I am willing to take that chance. I have accomplished so much in a relatively short space of time, in relation to the average recovery process, that I am not willing to stop and settle for where I am now. I fully believe in my ability to live a life without an eating disorder, and I refuse to allow myself to believe anything less than that. Yes, these realistic reminders throughout my journey are important in making me reflect on the facts and evidence about my progress, but I am not going to let them make my fight and determination take a back seat. If I have learnt one thing throughout this journey, it is that if you want to recover, then you will.