Those things right there are the things I love- it may sound sad but those are the things are enjoy. I am the first to admit that I find it hard to relax and chill out. That ‘de-stressing’ that everyone talks about, I’m more pre-stressing, particularly at this time of year. I have always been a worrier, and as a bit of a perfectionist I always feel like I should be doing something. During recovery I started to realise that the most important thing is to do what makes YOU happy. Some people are happy spending their Sunday’s in pjs watching Netflix, and that’s fine. Other people like to get up at daft o’clock and go and climb a hill to catch the sunrise, and that’s also fine, it’s personal choice. The main thing is finding what it is you enjoy and doing it more.
When you have an eating disorder it consumes you. It soaks up any personality you had and leaves an empty shell. You almost forget who you are, or who you were. What does Clem like, what does Clem enjoy, what makes Clem happy? During recovery I’d look at other people and what they did and enjoyed and think maybe I should be more like them, maybe I should like the things they like. Then a friend lent me the book ‘The Happiness Project’ all about a lady who was just trying to be as happy as she could be. In the book she says how she would try and get involved in the things her friends were doing, but she just didn’t enjoy what they did. The thing she said she loved was children’s literature, but she didn’t really want to admit it. Then she found someone else who felt the same, so they set up a book club for other like minded people, and she enjoyed it and it made her happy.
During my recovery I had to find what made me happy, or remember what had made me happy pre ED and see if it still worked. When I was younger the girls and I would go out every single Saturday, drink enough for a small town and then spend the whole of Sunday watching back to back Friends, eating rubbish. I enjoyed that then, but it I didn’t want to do that now. I don’t drink much since anorexia but I still like the odd night out- but most of the time I would rather do something else. Did that make me a bit sad, was I a bit of a loser for not wanting to go out and get hammered like everyone else seemed to? No, because everyone’s different, and none of my friends would ever want me to do something I didn’t enjoy. Likewise I wouldn’t expect any of them to come and do a 10km with me first thing on a Sunday morning if they didn’t want to. I probably worry too much what people think of me but I am getting better at just trying to do what I like, pleasing myself rather than other people.
It was that mindset that helped me during recovery. In my phone I wrote a list of things that made me happy, and things I enjoyed. I was desperately unhappy so any single, tiny thing was written down. I love going to get a coffee and chatting with friends, I love taking my dog on a cold, windy walk (she’s not so keen!), I love having a relaxing bath when it’s dark and grey outside. These aren’t major things, just little things that made me happy. Never underestimate the power of those things. Once you start doing more of the things you enjoy, it’s almost like you come back to life a bit- step by step you stat ‘living’ again. I used to refer to the old me, and my nutritionist told me not to, as there was no old or new me, just me! My interests have changed since my ED but I’ve also got that bit older, so you could argue it was just age. Never feel like you have to follow the pack to be happy. Doing what makes other people happy won’t necessarily make you happy. Do the little things that you enjoy, for you, because you want to