Those immortal words. I remember going a local rugby match, while still in ‘recovery’ I guess and my dad’s friend was sitting next to me. We were chatting about my eating disorder and he said ‘well you’re obviously fine now as you’ve put the weight back on.’ I kind of half laughed, shrugged and said that I was getting there.
There’s a huge misconception, and I guess misunderstanding that just because you’re ‘weight restored’ (I do hate that expression) that you’re A-OK, fine and dandy, ticking along nicely. Well sadly that isn’t the case. Just like ‘not being thin enough’ doesn’t mean you don’t have disordered eating. I will talk more about that in another post but I still think the idea of having to be a certain BMI before you can have help for anorexia is pretty shocking.
Annnnnyway- back to recovery. I always liken anorexia, and other similar issues, to a flood. When you see a flood in full force it looks pretty awful, everyone notices it and think of all the damage it’ll do. The flood waters then retreat, and at first glance everything’s back to normal. Bystanders assume the main problem has gone and normal service can resume. But it’s not like that. When flood waters recede the damage and devastation left behind looks worse than when there was a full flood (hope you’re still following this lovely flood analogy). There’s debris everywhere, nothing is like it was pre flood, but only those directly involved can see that.
Physical gain is obviously vital for someone at with a drastically low BMI, but mental gain is just as important, if not more important for those who are not drastically low, but simply cannot get out of the cycle. I belief recovery is on going, and to some degree I think once you have had anorexia you will always have it, it’s just about controlling it. I have always been a worrier and a stress head but post ED this has got worse and I have to work at keeping silly stresses at bay. My planning is also TO THE MAX! Again, I’ve always loved a plan but this has increased since anorexia. Then there’s the anxiety, the perfectionism, a few underlying food issues, the sporadic thought process and always wanting to feel in control. Of course, this isn’t limited to those who have suffered with EDs. Mental health issues have been in the media a fair bit recently, ranging from eating disorders to PTSD. Many things can trigger them and everyone handles them differently. This is how I try to deal with the ‘damage and debris’ that’s still kicking round after the flood as retreated:
- TALKING- I think this is my ‘cure’ for most things. Being open and chatting through your issues, worries, stresses really can help. I tend to talk to my mum and best girl friends, lucky them! I’m very open about how I feel and they can usually sense something before I actually say a words.
- PLAN- If your brain sporadically flits from one thing to the other, as mine does, make plans. That an be a plan for the day, or the week. If you have a day off and know there are a million things you want to do, just plan to get a few done. Make it realistic and doable
- DON’T PLAN- In total contradiction to the above, not planning is also a good thing. That could be a meal, a day trip, anything, but sometimes just ‘doing’ and not planning is a good thing. Life isn’t perfect and plans can’t often be perfect so actually not planning and going with the flow (I know, freaks me the hell out too) can be quite liberating.
- REMEMBER HOW FAR YOU’VE COME- This is so important! I genuinely think every, single, tiny step should be acknowledged. Whether that be eating from a different plate, wearing skinny jeans for the first time, or going to a new restaurant. ALL of those things are good things. I beat myself up for not doing more, and not having achieved more in the last 12 months but then I need to look at where I was 12 months ago- I was in a totally different city, in a totally different career, only allowing myself to eat out twice a month.
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF- Remember that if you have a lie in, that’ ok. If you miss a work out because you’re tired, that’s ok. If you have a day of sitting on the sofa and watching films, that’s ok.
As always, I hope this is helpful in some way and please feel free to give me your thoughts- are there other ways you cope with the aftermath of an ED?