Am I normal? What actually is normal? Maybe it’s good to be a bit abnormal? Someone said to me the other day that they wished their thoughts, and their head, could just be ‘normal.’ I said that there wasn’t really a normal, but sometimes I actually think the same.
Anorexia is a bit of a biatch in that in manifests itself in many ways. It’s like that thing from X-men that morphs into different characters, until finally it reveals itself as it’s true character. Yes anorexia is an EATING disorder but it drags a whole load of other disorders with it too. I’ve always been a planner, a worrier, and a bit of a perfectionist but post ED these have exploded to Everest style heights. When you don’t complete the plans, or sort the worries, or reach those ‘perfect’ ideals you feel a bit of a weed, a bit of a halfhearted citizen, like you’re not trying hard enough. So you plan more, you worry more, and you up the levels of perfectionism- yay! You think it’s just you being a bit of a knob- everyone else is getting through life without planning every, single 30 minutes of their day, so why can’t you. The you realise that it’s actually still your illness being a bit of a twat. It’s not really you that’s rubbish, it’s the post anorexic mind that’s taking over a bit. This dawned on me a bit the other day while I was on twitter- obviously! Emma Woolf, author of An Apple a Day tweeted a series of posts about anorexia, and they were so spot on. The following especially rang true for me:
‘Perfectionists, especially those with anorexia, live by a rigid and exhausting set of self-imposed rules. So, why not break some rules?’
‘Eat something from your list of ‘unsafe’ foods WITHOUT CHECKING CALORIES; ignore your alarm and have a lie-in; skip your daily workout.’
‘Remember, an eating disorder limits your whole world, not just the food you eat: being brave exposes you to new people, flavours, feelings’
While I may be a whooooooole load better in terms of my eating, just recently my mind has been a total muuuush. My working life is actually, pretty much exactly what I hate and what I find hard- no routine what so ever. My weeks vary, my days vary. Sometimes I’m in the gym for 16 hours a day (sporadic PT sessions often mean I just stay there in between clients), and sometimes I’m not in for 2 days. With that being the case I find it hard to switch off, and feel guilty when I do. I will try and plan my clients but am forever searching for the perfect training plan for each one. Equally I try and plan social things and search endless for the perfect day, with the perfect meal, and the perfect setting. As the work aspect of my life is so unstructured, other parts of my life become more structured, possibly with more ‘self imposed rules.’ All of this is actually exhausting, mentally and physically.
So, as the old expression goes, if nothing changes, nothing changes, so I’m going to try and change a few things, or rather work on a few things:
PERFECTIONISM- I’ve said it before, and am saying it to myself as much as anyone else, but nothing is perfect, and actually what is perfect? Anything can be perfect if you allow it to be. Take away your idea of perfect, whether it’s a meal, a day trip, a guy. Sitting on a beach in the rain, eating a soggy fish and chips could actually be perfect if you were with the right people.
SELF- IMPOSED RULES- you do not NEED to do something every single day, whether it be work related, or socially. Doing nothing is actually OK. You also don’t NEED to do things in a certain way, or in certain time frame. If you don’t tidy, or make you bed as you usually do, does it matter? If you run 4.5km not 5km does it matter? If you eat a something you can’t quantify, does it matter? As Emma said, challenge your rules, because actually if you challenge them you’re even more in control than if you weren’t
BE BRAVE- it’s scary trying to be brave, especially if you don’t believe in yourself but always ask what’s the worst that can happen- you go to a party and you don’t enjoy it, you try a different food and you don’t like it, you train at a different gym and it’s not for you. You can always go back to what you did before but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
I think the main point of this never ending rambling is to actually just not be so hard on yourself. If you feel anxious day in day out, yet still carry on with life, trying the best you can, that’s pretty good. But also know it doesn’t have to be like that. The anxiety may always be there, but like anorexia itself, it’s about controlling it and not letting it control you.
Don’t feel you’re not normal. Don’t feel disheartened if you have both bad and good days. Don’t let it win- challenge it, break the rules, believe in yourself. Life is for living, and that’s something I forget sometimes….because I’m too busy planning….