Recovering from an Eating Disorder

Posted 25/09/2017

To any sufferer of an eating disorder, this title will seem paradoxical. As for me in the midst of recovery, it does seem like the most impossible task – how am I supposed to recover from something that dominates and encompasses my entire existence? Honestly, anyone who pretends to have the magic answer and can define what recovery looks like is lying, not only to themselves but to you as well.

If I were to personify my recovery, I would choose the ferry from Dover to Calais. You need to take the journey in order to experience France and the continent, but if you’re honest, no one really wants to make the rather bleak and choppy journey. The reason why this description is oh-so-relevant is because of the rather depressing aspect to not only the channel crossing but to my recovery.

Personally I feel as though I have been in some form of recovery for about six years. I suffered from chronic depression, which then took on the form of anorexia. What I think any sufferer of an eating disorder wonders is how does one begin to measure a recovery, when the end goal is about as tangible as a chocolate teapot?

Quite a common feeling I have gathered from other people suffering from an eating disorder is that there is no lightbulb moment when you wake up and feel better, but the feeling takes time and slowly accumulates over days, weeks and months. Personally, as quite an impatient person, this all seems rather infuriating and irritating, knowing that there isn’t a simple solution or a magic pill. Knowing that it all take a long time can be at points rather miserable, but what I think I and fellow sufferers have to keep at the forefront of their minds is their motivations.

For me I find this incredibly difficult. I allow my mind to be clouded over by the fog that is E.D thoughts and depression. Honestly, there is an odd comfort in these thoughts; they are like a well-worn slipper, they fit perfectly and are a bit smelly. Both the thoughts and the slippers are both a hindrance and a help – they hinder my ability to live life to the full but they have also been one of my major motivating factors.

Motivation, in the context of any mental illness, is rather an abstract concept. Mine at the moment of writing this is supposed to be reading History at university in October. However, every day I wake up and find it difficult to keep my motivation in mind and prefer to put on my depression and E.D slippers. You are probably wondering where I am going with this, and I am thinking the same thing, but I believe that is rather the point when discussing an eating disorder recovery journey. There is no one piece of key advice, no one immediate answer that will unlock immediate happiness. All I am trying to say is that it is really difficult and, like the Channel ferry, rather bleak and unbearable. I hope that through acknowledging that it is not plain sailing, others can sigh with relief after having a particularly bad day, knowing that it isn’t all sunshine and roses as social media feeds tend to be.

The one piece of advice that I have gained from months of inpatient admissions is that in order to get better there needs to be a reason and the right level of support around the sufferer. For me it is university, for you it could be as simple as looking after a pet. Motivations do not need to be massive but there needs to be some reason for waking up in the morning. I will be the first to admit that I need to take my own advice, but I hope that this advice is somewhat helpful.

Contributed by Georgie