On the surface, I do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – no full-time job, no university studies, no running, no dance classes, no responsibilities. I can lounge around all day, take nap after nap and am not expected to be ‘productive’. If anything, I’m told not to be! Some pity me that I have had to put life on hold for recovery in terms of studies and new friendships and life experiences such as exploring bars and clubs. Some envy me because ‘I HAVE to do nothing all day!’ and I must admit these pyjamas are awfully comfy!!
Yet why does my brain feel like it’s working on a PhD and my body feel like it is running a marathon even as I sit on the sofa doing ‘absolutely nothing’?
This time last year, if I were given the option to sit and watch movies all day in my pyjamas, I would have jumped at the chance! I worked myself into mental and physical exhaustion revising, working and exercising whilst always raising the bar as to what I could manage. My body wasn’t fuelled by the food it needed, yet my mind was too scared of the fuel itself. Food.
Think about something you are afraid of. Heights? Darkness? Clowns maybe? Now you would most likely go about your life avoiding these things and other people would respect that – everyone is afraid of something and, most of the time, you can get through life without the avoidance of these things being problematic. For example, if scared of heights, it does no harm to never go rock climbing. If scared of the dark, have a night light and get on with your life! And if scared of clowns…well, let’s just say that no one has ever been diagnosed with circus deficiency!
Yet for me it is not that simple. I am afraid of my medicine and the only thing that will make me stronger and healthier and happier. I’m not afraid of the food itself but myself around the food. Every single day I have to eat and eat and eat mountains of fear foods, which means I fight and fight and fight my head every three hours. But that is just the surface of it. I can’t just pop out shopping. I can’t just meet up for a coffee. I can’t always be there at the click of the fingers. I have to plan every aspect of every activity. Does it involve me walking too much? Does it overlap with a meal time? If so, is there a way of bringing food with me or can I prepare it there?
I am busier than I have ever been and challenged every single day by the decisions and planning and consumption of food. I am exhausted by resting my legs that are itching to go out and do a 5k run. The cogs in my head are still turning and processing information and I am working so hard.
Now, as I lounge and seemingly do ‘absolutely nothing’, I am in fact holding down a full-time job in eating. I am studying possible meal plans. Running and dancing has been replaced by knitting, writing and sitting still – something I find far more of a challenge! And I have one responsibility that is more important than any I have had before regarding school or work. I have to eat.
Facing your fears is exhausting. Trust me, I know. But I am reassured by the fact that my fight now will make me healthy, strong and happy in the future. Every mouthful brings me closer to a ‘normal’ life. Every bite is a little ‘fudge you’ to anorexia. A year ago, I was consumed by food in an entirely different way to how I am now. I consume food so, one day, food will not consume me.
Choose to eat. Not to be eaten.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
What a year 2020 has been in general for everyone – it was a year no one ever could have imagined, from panic buying, toilet roll shortages, lockdowns and restrictions. Yet for so many, including me, the battle against an eating disorder continued.