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"Although it's difficult, you can do it" - Bee's tips for the festive season

Hi! I’m Bee and I’m a 20-year-old girl from Wales, with a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa. I love fashion and music, to be with my friends, and I am a Drag Artist and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. I have been grateful for Beat for years, so here is my input on the coping with this time of the year, in a hope it will bring you at least some feeling of being understood, as well as sharing some of mine and my loved ones’ tactics you may want to try.

In my experiences, some years of the festive season have been better than others. Festivities and their food focus can be massively difficult and triggering for people struggling with an eating disorder, obviously due to the immense focus on food and expectance to enjoy eating that this season brings. Us eating disorder sufferers often struggle with a negative food focus daily, so having such a pressure to be okay with the positive is really tough.

I like to know that if I need to, I can leave the situation for a little bit, to come back and resume the fun and love with a more level head.

As well as this, something I have found to be a big thought surrounding this time is the want and need for everyone around me to still enjoy it, to still have their positive look on the food focus. There are a lot of mental pressures that come to mind, you want to get through it with a smile and enjoy it yourself, but also bring a sense of warmth to the loved ones you are spending your time with.

Another thing I have found particularly helpful is planning – talk with these chosen people and arrange something with food you are at more ease with; try to only surround yourself with supportive and loving people. It doesn’t have to be a big conversation, just break it down and don’t overwhelm yourself. Take your time!

Another tip is to have a place you can be at for comfort that isn’t in the midst of all the festivities: a bedroom, quiet room, outside breather area…anything! Our minds run to the escape route quite a lot, so with my anxiety (and I’m sure, some of yours), I like to know that if I need to, I can leave the situation only for a little bit, to come back and resume the fun and love with a more level head. This is helpful with how overwhelming these settings are to us.

You deserve to live your life without your illness entirely taking over

With that, you might like to find something physical that gives you a sense of comfort carry with you. As much as I know this doesn’t fix what we feel, it can be a great reliever – whether that’s a certain piece of clothing, jewellery, a fidget toy… in my case a Squishmallow!

The main taking from all of this is that although it's difficult, you can do it, even if that is in your own way. You deserve to live your life without your illness entirely taking over, and as much as this happens sometimes and it is so valid to feel like you can’t see a way out – you deserve better and you can get out. And if that comes with more patience, support, care, efforts to help, respect…all of these things are entirely okay.

Although we feel it, surround yourself with those that will not pressure but instead encourage; there is nothing else I can recommend more than this. No matter how the festivities go for you, you have a reason to be proud as every day can be a challenge and you are facing an overwhelming season – but with that in mind, I hope you have the best time possible and only see love during the process.

-Contributed by Bee

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, or are concerned for yourself or a loved one, you can find support and guidance on the help pages of our website.

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