I never realised how hard it would be. How long it would take; it’s a process, not a goal. It doesn’t end, it just gets easier, and then hard again, and then easy, and then… You gain weight and others presume you’re better, that food is no longer an issue and that you are no longer ‘anorexic’, but inside you still hear the voice battle against your own and this internal monologue takes up so much of your time you feel there are not enough hours in the day. Why can’t you watch a movie like everyone else, read a book, binge a series, follow conversations? It’s pretty difficult when you are arguing irrational thoughts using the techniques learned in therapy that just don’t seem to be working! If it works then why aren’t you healed? Why do you look at yourself in the mirror and see something others don’t see? You are smarter than this, stronger than this, but why can’t you heal? You finally thought you had it, finally thought you reached the point where your eating disorder was no longer a part of your life. But then you see yourself crying over how you look in an old dress, over the snack you had late at night, over simple things that shouldn’t matter. But they do, they matter so so much that you want to scream and scream and scream and give up on it all.
But remember what you have accomplished up to that point. The first piece of cake you had eaten after going years without. The first meal you ate at a restaurant, and the next one, and the next, and all the others that made it nothing more than a fun activity, no longer accompanied by fear or guilt. Think of the parties you attended, the food is eaten and shared, the holidays you enjoyed with family and friends, trying new foods and loving or hating them. Think of how it felt to be surrounded by people you love and to be able to be fully present, not calculating what you ate or will eat. Think of the smiles on people’s faces when they see you smile when they see your personality and authentic nature after years of it being darkened by your illness. Remember the clothes bought that you feel comfortable in, that you use to express yourself, the times you laughed, you partied, you hugged, kissed, and felt all the emotions that were not a result of the eating disorder, but a result of all the ups and downs life brings.
Recovery is hard, it may seem at times it is not worth the fight, that the feelings never end, and you will never be without an empty mind. And maybe that’s true, maybe the thoughts are something you will have to battle throughout your life, they may not be there every day, and at times be weaker than others, but they will resurface and may come as a surprise. Don’t let this fool you into giving up, never stop fighting, just remember of all the good; the smiles and the laughter and the happiness recovery brought you and let this push you to keep going. Beauty and joy are always present, you will see them again x
(For anyone battling with an eating disorder, you are not alone in your fight, no matter how isolating it may feel. For anyone who knows someone in recovery, please be there for them, not only when they actively seek help, but always. Be mindful of what you say as words can go a long way. A listening ear does the world of good x)
Some useful supports:
BODYWHYS: Online, phone and group support for eating disorders.
SPUN OUT: This is a one stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.
CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.
YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.