If you were to ask a person who had never suffered with an eating disorder what they thought it meant to be ‘recovered’ I think the first thing they’d think of is weight gain. ‘Well you must be better now as you’ve put the weight back on!?’ Oooooh if only it were that simple! Recovery is a slow, long winded process that has many different stages in my opinion. Obviously everyone is different and some people recover quicker than others but I think you need to do it all in your own time to reduce the chances of relapsing.
When I started my recovery simple things like eating out of different bowls, having meals at slightly different times were huge steps forward. There was a time when there would have been no way I’d have eaten lunch at 1.07pm rather than 1pm. Then the further into recovery you get the more the emphasis shifts from food and goes onto actual life. By this I mean how you feel as opposed to what you’re doing.
On my instagram account I mentioned I was going to a best friends wedding on Friday. I can honestly say it was one of the most lovely days. So many things in my life are totally different at the moment so it was so good to spend a day with people who are not only familiar to me, but are also some of my closest friends. Despite the recent changes in my life (new city, new job, new career, new house) I had a few ‘recovery wins’ at the wedding. Actually attending the wedding was the first major win, and something I wouldn’t have considered when I was in early recovery a couple of years ago. So what else:
- I ate a full blown wedding breakfast, complete with little rocky road thingy to accompany the coffee.
- I drank, not copious amounts, but I drank! Wine, champagne, a specially made wedding cocktail
- I had a plate of cheese and biscuits with everyone else later on in the evening, and even went back for more cheese- think I’m part Wallace from Wallace and Gromit
- I had a Gummie Bear, crazy I know, and only one of the little things but I just fancied a sweetie. I haven’t eaten a sweetie for at least 3 and a half years!
- I had porridge made by the B and B the next morning. I took a few bits to accompany breakfast, and had asked for boiled eggs in advance but I ate the porridge, random unmeasured, unkown oats, with random unmeasured, unkown milk
Those are the obvious ‘wins,’ the ones that would probably be noticeable to my friends, the ones related to food. But for me recovery is about so much more than that. The real wins of the day for me:
- I actually felt ‘normal,’ or as normal as I’m going to be, because no one likes boring, bog standard normal!
- I loved every second of the day, regardless of the food
- I listened to the speeches (well as I’d forgotten my hearing aid, the bits I could hear!) actually taking in what they were saying rather than mentally going over what I’d just eaten
- I spent the morning after chatting with 2 of my best friends, shifting through the 500 photos I took, rating than going for a run as I’d eaten a bit more the day before
- I was happy- I saw my friend get married, I heard her now husband saying how he would look after her as best he could, I reminisced with my other friends, we laughed and we cried.
Recovery is about actually living. An eating disorder makes you feel like you are merely existing, recovery should make you feel like you can live again. All this may sound gushy and cliched, and if you know me, you will know I’m not a gushy person, at all! But yesterday made me realise how much of recovery is unrelated to food, and more about feelings. Don’t get me wrong I will have days when I feel fat, I will days when I worry I’ve eaten too much, there will be times when I take my own food to things but that doesn’t take away how I feel about life now.
This is a slow process. I have been weight restored for sometime but it can take a while for the brain to catch up. I’m guilty of to focusing too much on things I’m not doing- I didn’t get hammered at the wedding like everyone else, I didn’t have any wedding cake, I took my own snacks and bits of food just incase BUT I did all the things I mentioned above. Focus on what your ARE doing, even if it’s just eating with a different spoon, all those things add up, and then you suddenly realise you’ve got a bit of your life back