"I can't imagine what it would be like if I were at my worst": a statement I found myself revealing to my mother as we walked through the local supermarket superstore, to empty shelves and families stocking trolleys high. She pointed out, that despite considering myself recovered, it's true I had been suffering with an increase of anxiety, with this being my final and very important year of my law degree (with my grad job relying on my results) and having to move back home from London due to COVID-19.
With a needed-break from my dissertation writing, I wanted to dedicate a few minutes to give my advice, on what I am doing and would do to decrease the likelihood of relapse, increased anxieties and pressure.
1. Speak to someone trusted when you notice that things are getting tough with your eating disorder. For me this is my mum, but could be a trusted friend and if you are self-isolating alone, someone you can text regular updates to. Just having someone knowing takes a huge pressure off of yourself.
2. Use this as an opportunity to prove to yourself that your eating disorder will never win. Eating disorders cannot win and we won't let them. You need to be strong and healthy for your body to fight the virus and if this means reaching away from safe foods when they are not available or switching to alternatives, do so with pride. Pride that your body will be strong enough to survive this.
3. But also recognise that your eating disorder does not become any less valid just because other struggles may be going on around you. It is still a serious mental illness and something you have to deal with on top of other issues. Make sure you are extra kind and patient with yourself in times of increased stress. If things don't go to plan: take a deep breath and try again.
4. Your routine might change. Mine has! I find that adapting a new routine can be useful. Change is good! Embrace this change and allow time for extra things that you might enjoy. For example, now I'm home instead of my university halls, I have unlimited access to TV – discover a new series and set aside some time to watch it in the evenings! Or it might be a bubble bath, or playing with pets, or a new YouTube yoga class etc. You can find a new structure if you find yourself now studying/working from home – focus your mind on the positives in this.
5. If you find yourself with a lower immune system, take this just as seriously as the NHS takes other high risk cases. Self-isolate if you need to and follow the tips above! Do not feel that your eating disorder is any less valid than other health issues.
Most of all, be extra kind to yourself and those around you in this difficult time – the world needs it!
If you're worried about coronavirus, you can look at our guidance addressing some of the questions around the impact of the illness on eating disorders. You can also join our new online support group, the Sanctuary, set up to support anyone with an eating disorder who may feel worried and isolated right now.
In the coming days and weeks, we'll continue to produce more content to support you during this time, so please do keep an eye on our blog and main site.
Self-isolation is hard for everyone right now; everyone with an eating disorder is aware that there is pressure on every single person’s mental health.
These two posts, written two years apart, show how Mel managed to overcome a lot of the anxiety she felt around shopping for food.
Covid-19 is doing strange things to my perception, my lungs, my mind. And strangely, I am also thinking… “Phew, I’m glad I’ve been locked up before!”