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"This year has taught me to be kinder to myself"

As we approach the end of 2020, Katherine looks back at the year.

(Please note the content warning for bereavement.)

 

What a year 2020 has been in general for everyone – it was a year no one ever could have imagined, from panic buying, toilet roll shortages, lockdowns and restrictions. Yet for so many, including me, the battle against an eating disorder continued.

I started recovery in November 2019 and am now approaching my second Christmas and new year in recovery. It was only last December when I finally told my family about being diagnosed with anorexia in 2015, and although it was difficult to see their reactions of wishing they had have known, it was the best thing I could ever do to help in my recovery. I was no longer hiding in the shadows of my eating disorder and that day, I truly took a stand against it. As I am now a year into recovery, 2020 has blessed me with a slower pace of life that has allowed me to stop and appreciate my family and friends around me.

However, this April, my mum sadly passed away, and this was a loss like no other that I had ever experienced. My mum had been shocked to hear about my struggles as my family always thought I was doing okay but after explaining that that is what an eating disorder does, they took the time to understand what it was like for me. Losing Mum made me realise that it is the people around us who bring joy into our lives and she brought so much into mine. I know she would wish me to keep moving forward in my recovery and no matter how dark my days may get with grief, I’ll keep taking one step at a time for her and myself. 

This year has also taught me to be kinder to myself, promote self-care, look at relapses as learning opportunities and not setbacks, and talk about my experiences with an eating disorder to raise more awareness. My self-care has got me back out hiking in the hills, which was an activity I loved beyond words that was taken away from me at my lowest. I have blocked out time from work and studying to meet with my family and friends, to introduce mindfulness, yoga and relaxation. I’ve allowed myself to have movie days were I don’t always have to be doing something productive and I don’t feel guilty.

In all, 2020 has helped me realise that I am more resilient than ever imagined, I have brilliant people around me and I know I can meet even more brilliant people by stopping to appreciate the relationships we have. I know we do not have to always be busy, as life passes us by when we don’t have time to look up.

Whilst I know I am very much in the recovery phase, I am looking at 2021 on the horizon with a brighter outlook and excitement that I haven’t experienced in years. I am looking forward to getting back out into the hills a lot more, hiking my way across Northern Ireland and Ireland, enjoying quality time with my family and friends, and appreciating all the smaller things that I would have taken for granted before. For me, nature has a great healing power and the outdoor gear has been bought with next year in mind.

My recovery journey has had its challenges but it is a journey that I am very grateful to have started on and I wish everyone all the best in 2021. Remember that you are not going through this alone, you are worth everything and deserve to have the same recovery experience that I am having.

Contributed by Katherine