It's that time of the year when many of us are receiving academic results or thinking about college and university places, often bringing up feelings of anxiety, comparison and doubt.
So in this week's blog, our supporter Libby-Mae reflects on her own return to education after recovering from an eating disorder, reminding us that whatever your life stage, the journey to recovery is rarely a straight line - and wherever it takes you, there really is no wrong path.
Returning to education after being in recovery from an eating disorder is like returning to the scene of the crime.
The location and the building and the people may be different, but it feels the same. That fear buzzing around your skin, like you’re nectar to a bee. Tingling all over and threatening to make a scene. To make you frightened and panicked and alone. To make you crave that control, that order. But you are different. Your thoughts, your behaviours, your life, it’s all different.
I am not that person who will buy lunch just to throw it away.
I am not that person having to retouch my make up after every meal.
I am not that person trying to convince others my coffee is a meal.
I am not that person.
I will walk into that building and walk those halls and remember that I am strong. I am brave. I am worthy.
But I am returning to the scene of the crime where my eating disorder reined free. The one that stole years of my life. The one that left me friendless, and jobless.
The one that made me steal and lie and betray everyone’s trust. Where it went unchecked, living wild and free, burning a hole so deep within me, it’s taking years to climb out. I am returning to the scene of the crime.
There will be canteens and food and drinks. There will noise and laughter and shouting and chaos, like animals in a jungle. Nobody will think twice about the girl quietly eating her lunch in-between classes because everybody is thinking the same thing.
They’re all so worried about what other people think that nobody is thinking about anyone but themselves.
There will be food that I never used to eat, and food that I always ate. There will be choices and choices and choices, and I can eat any of it.
I am allowed to eat any of it, and when that voice at the back of my head whispers to me, I will take another bite, for each bite stomps that voice down.
There will be challenges and difficulties, but I have trained for this.
There will be toilets there and here and upstairs and downstairs and all around. They offer promises of emptiness and relief, thinness, and superiority, but the promises mean nothing to me. They throw their chains and hooks with desperation, but I am a warrior and I have a shield of amour.
I will walk into that building and walk those halls and remember that I am strong. I am brave. I am worthy. No longer will I hide away and lie to everyone and pretend I’m not hungry and hold secrets to my chest.
No longer will I be ashamed or embarrassed. No longer will I let fear take over. Being at school, then college, then university was the perfect excuse to let my eating disorder take control, but no longer will I let my eating disorder win.
I am returning to the scene of the crime… and I am ready.
-contributed by Libby
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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