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"Recovering one recipe at a time"

My name is Katie, I am 36, and I am recovering from anorexia.

I have lived with anorexia for nearly seven years. When I admitted to my disease just over three years ago, I could never imagine a time where I would be looking at food without contempt. Contempt, loathing, and desire all at the same time!

It took 18 months of working on myself to get this far. Therapy, yoga, meditation, shouting, crying, fundraising, friends, and family have all played a part in my recovery.

When you sink as low as you can go, you have a choice, and I chose life. I chose to rise up again and I chose to face my illness. 

For the last two years, I have used blogging as a type of therapy; I have expressed my innermost feelings, I have shared personal thoughts with strangers and in a weird way, it has really helped me. I also take comfort in the fact it may have helped others.

Is the grass greener?

My partner and I took the decision to do something different. We were given an opportunity to move to Spain for six months and experience a different way of life. We both needed a change.

Anorexia has had a big impact on our relationship and at times almost tore us apart. I am proud to say this destructive disease was not strong enough to break us.

We have been living in Spain for a month now and how do I feel? I mean really feel?

I have purposely not taken the time to write – I needed to settle in and see where my head ended up and, more importantly, where anorexia fitted into all of this.

I have made a big decision to move away from writing about anorexia. I am done. 

I have given it way too much of a voice over the last three years (and longer) and now it’s time to move on.

Mental illness awareness is still a subject I am passionate about; it does still have stigma attached to it – people who have never experienced it will never ever understand where you are taken to in the depths of your despair.

Yoga, meditation and keeping busy have all kept me bobbing my head above water and I will do whatever I can to keep the dark days away. 

Sometimes the dark days just come upon you and you aren't ready. For me in the month we have been in Spain I have had two of those days at the most. In the last year, it was easily two days a week! Recovery takes time, but like a warm blanket, I can feel it slowly comforting me.

What next?

After much debate and encouragement by friends and family, my blog is going to be a personal food recipe blog. I am hoping that trying out new recipes will be a positive way to introduce new foods and recipes into my mind. I am staying away from the word DIET – it's a word with so many negative connotations…

The one positive thing anorexia has given me is knowledge about food. Over the years I have pored over recipes, watched food trends come and go, worked in the food industry and learned how our bodies use food in our everyday lives. 

Most people who do not understand anorexia will assume you have no interest in food; it's the total opposite and is the sick side of living with the disease. 

With such a fascination and passion for food and as I start to recover, it feels really natural and right to turn my experience into a positive and hopefully helps others who are recovering too. Finding recipes is a challenge for anyone recovering from an eating disorder. Introducing new foods takes time, and many recipes include foods I still do not feel totally comfortable with. Developing and adapting my own recipes has allowed me freedom to introduce foods slowly and in my own time.

I want to create and adapt recipes and share them on my blog. I want to be able to eat the recipes I cook – over the years I have so often cooked for others without even thinking about eating the food. 

If my recipes inspire others’ recovery then I am happy; if it also raises awareness of this destructive disease then I will be ecstatic.

Mental illness – I have no shame!

I know I still want to talk about my mental health issue and what living with anorexia is like. Blogging has helped keep me going this far. Depression, self-loathing, lack of confidence or whatever you want to call it affects us all – some of us find solace and comfort in talking and are able to open up, and others just sit at home and cry their secret tears.

All I can say is try to talk and keep talking – you are never alone.

Anorexia will not be given a voice anymore. Mental illness will still be a part of me and what I speak about. I am who I am today because of my mental illness, good or bad. 

This is me. I am recovering one recipe at a time.

Contributed by Katie

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