22 August 2016
One Week of Holiday Blues at a Time...
How do you reintroduce somebody back to the reality of life after they have had the most incredible time away exploring Europe. Arrive home to a text from the doctors to say that you have an appointment for blood tests and ECG’s the following day? Check. Open a letter from the dietician to say that an appointment has been scheduled for within the next two weeks? Check. Tear open an envelope that contains all of the information you will need for starting University in a months time? Check. Wake up in your own bed and realise that you do not have to pack your suitcase ready to explore another city? Check. I think it is fair to say that as soon as I walked through my front door, the reality of life hit me like a smack to the face.
This past week at home has not been easy to say the least. I have had time to reflect on the challenges that I have faced and this has led to second-guessing how I dealt with them- by betraying what my Anorexia desired. Was there a ‘healthier’ option that I could have picked at that restaurant? Did I serve myself the ‘correct’ portion size when I dished that up myself? Should I have spent money on that snack, or could I have gotten away with not eating something? The negative thoughts have had the opportunity to circulate round and round in my mind. It was the exhausting battle that I usually dealt with at the time of the situation, but with so many distractions, I had not given my eating disorder the chance to make an appearance. However, as I settled back into home life, the reality of my mental condition was swift in making an unwelcome reintroduction. It has tried to make me doubt my meal and lifestyle choices. It has tried to make me feel guilty. It has tried to make me over-analyse my body. So how have I responded to all of these thoughts and emotions? Through positive affirmations- appreciating my body, my achievements and my life.
In making these positive affirmations, I cement in my own head the possibilities that I can experience if I continue to nourish my body, learn to value myself and not try to live my life according to what I believe others expect of me. Every single day I look through the photos of everything that I had the opportunity to see and do during my tour of Europe. Whilst looking at the images, I have never felt so thankful of life and what it has to offer. I know all too well just how quickly the prospect of making precious memories can be taken away from you, and I refuse to let my illness have that impact again. So as I tackle the negative thoughts, I counteract their influence by acknowledging all of the positive memories I created on the trip. However, this has also enhanced the holiday blues.
After opening up to my cousin about the difficulties I have experienced whilst being home- another significant reminder of my transformation during recovery- the enormity of my recent venture came to light. I reflected on just how clear my mind felt whilst I was away. Amazing people, beautiful scenery and a wealth of activities surrounded me; the chances I had to become absorbed in the negative thoughts of my illness were minimal. It wasn’t that my mind was silent; I was just focused on so many other things, making my eating disorder become inaudible. Moving forward, this is how I want my life to be like. Not so busy that I push myself to the point where I cannot be at peace with my body and mind, but establish contentment with myself to enable me to live a happy and healthy life full of worthwhile focuses. Time, personal development and the nature of life itself will play a significant part in this ambition, however, the motivation has stemmed from spending just 18 days out of my comfort zone with some very special people, so I am willing to persevere.
I think the impact that my fellow travellers have had on my time away has become very apparent. Having conversations with such interesting people, all with different lifestyles, ambitions and outlooks on life was inspiring. Listening to others who share the same enthusiasm for adventure and travel has fuelled my desire to explore the world and seeing them move on to different destinations has been difficult to witness. It has been fantastic to follow their journeys so far, yet I cannot help but feel saddened that I cannot join them. It is inevitable that close friendships are formed on this kind of trip, but I did not expect to feel so upset about departing from a certain few. After sitting with an individual, sometimes for 8 hours a day, you form incredible bonds with them and once separated, this can be difficult to adapt to. However, there is no denying that this has only boosted my ambition to work hard and be able to visit those people in the near future.
On the other hand, the return from my trip has not all been bad news. In fact, I am more proud of myself than ever. After visiting the doctors for a blood test and ECG, I was informed that my results are perfect. Not only that, but I have managed to maintain my weight! The confidence boost that this has given me is enormous. It firstly confirmed that it is possible to have an amazing time, participate in activities and enjoy food, without putting my health at risk. I am clearly starting to understand the need for food as fuel and the importance of replenishing my body. I know that I still have more weight to gain, but after living on a diet of bread, chocolate and biscuits whilst on my trip, I have proven to myself that consuming my biggest ‘fear foods’ are not going to make me rapidly gain weight. I cannot say that I still whole-heartedly believe this, as my Anorexia is continually trying to tell me otherwise, but as with the positive affirmations, I will continue to remind myself of that moment when I stepped on the scales.
Writing about my week at home has actually made me realise that my holiday blues aren’t all doom and gloom after all. It has made me more determined to maintain my health, challenge myself and strive towards full recovery. Travelling has always been a huge part of my life and I will not let my illness take that away from me- it happened last year and it will not happen again.