It’s safe to say this year has impacted our lives in so many ways – ways none of us probably ever deemed possible. Across the globe people have had to deal with a great amount of change and upheaval to everyday life and routine.
Even now, years into my recovery, I struggle with anxiety around change and loss of control. Feelings that have been magnified by the events over the last few months. I can easily recognise how these current additional anxieties we are all facing could be extremely overwhelming for those still in the midst of their battle with an eating disorder.
I want to take a few minutes to share a couple of simple things I tell myself, in the hope it can help you feel less alone with such a rollercoaster of emotions.
Firstly, this isn’t going to last forever – this pandemic is temporary. One day things will go back to ‘normal’, and yes, we don’t know when this will be, or even what the new ‘normal’ will look like, but one day we will get there. When it gets overwhelming I just tell myself to take each day at a time and focus on the small things, instead of trying to predict what will happen in the future. We don’t know the end point or when we will get there, which is extremely frustrating, but one day we will.
Secondly, I’m sure there will be days where everything seems out of control, but remember you still have control over your own life and recovery. For me the biggest steps towards recovery came at times when I felt my control had been completely stripped away from me. As uncomfortable as it seems, being out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding and you will probably be amazed at the strength and positive change you can draw on from within. Nobody likes feeling out of control but just remember there are so many things to take ownership of – it doesn't have to revolve around food or exercise habits.
Remember, you are not alone. Eating disorders are an extremely lonely illness at the best of times. Being away from family, friends, loved ones and support systems will no doubt emphasise these feelings. It may also trigger you to push people away and be alone with your eating disorder. But there is always someone, somewhere, who is there to help and listen. If you are struggling and feeling alone, pick up your phone, send a text, reach out to a support line – at the end of the day we are all in this together.
Finally be kind to yourself. You are enough. There will be rough days and that’s okay. You don’t need to use this time to become a better version of yourself. I’ve recognised strong feelings that I'm wasting time and I need to become ‘good enough’, which is becoming stronger now the restrictions are easing. This has led to setting myself unachievable goals and ideals, and even trying to rebuild relationships with people I know were toxic for me just so I feel like I have made everything ‘better’ around me. This feeling of never being good enough and failure was always my biggest hurdle in recovery. In reality what we need to do is show ourselves a little bit of kindness and self-care. At the end of the day we are living through a global pandemic. You are and always will be good enough – don't let anyone or the illness make you think any different.
I hope these points might somehow help during what is a truly difficult and frankly very bizarre time of our lives, which is causing such a rollercoaster of emotions. Try and keep as strong as you can, believe in yourself and where possible keep smiling. You’ve got this.