‘Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try’

The past week has been a struggle. I haven’t wanted to write anything for a number of reasons. Firstly, it makes me feel like a failure. I hate how I can be doing so well, getting further down the journey to recovery, and still struggle with ‘blips’ (as my therapist likes to call them). Secondly, I am now at home and as soon as I hit ‘publish’, a copy of this post will be sent to my Mum and Dad. Although I am glad we can be open with one another, I also find that it can stop me writing so freely. I am scared that they are going to read this and start watching my every move.

Things have been a bit difficult since I got back from holiday. After having had such a ‘blowout’ while we were away, I was conscious to be more ‘sensible’ when I got home. However, I find it so hard to get a healthy balance. Because I started making healthier choices when I got back and cutting certain things out of my diet, it triggered further restriction. It reminded me how an eating disorder is like many other addictions. When you start using again, even if it is just a little bit, it is hard to put it down. Although it may start small, it can get out of control quicker than you think. Once you’re hooked again, it’s hard to give it up.

I am used to hearing Ed’s voice but I had also got good at turning the volume down. It doesn’t scare me that I can hear the voice of my eating disorder, I am used to that. What scares me is that I am listening to it. I am making myself believe what Ed is telling me. Even though deep down I know what I am doing is wrong, I can’t seem to stop it.

Part of me has been keeping all these thoughts to myself because I don’t want anyone to stop me. But I know that’s dangerous. I always tell myself, ‘I will never get as bad as I was’, ‘I could never go back there’. Maybe thats true. But why even go a bit of the way back? I should be marching forward, progressing and getting better. I don’t want to screw up everything I have worked so hard for.

I have shared some of these thoughts with my Mum. She has asked me why I am acting like this? Asked why I am listening to the voice and letting it takeover? The truth is, this shitty illness baffles me at times. It’s confusing and right now I’m not sure I have the answers she wants. I know I don’t want to be lying in bed hungry at night. I know I don’t want to be wasting my time counting calories and planning meals in my head. I know I don’t want to be scared of going out for a meal with friends. However, despite knowing all this, I am letting it happen. I need to be brave and keep fighting, but sometimes it feels too damn hard.

I looked back at some of my old blog posts to try and get some motivation. I never like to write anything unless there is some kind of positive message. I came across the following quote which I have blogged a few times:

“Your body is not your enemy; it is your ally. It will carry you into the future if you nourish yourself well for the journey. Your most valuable traits cannot be measured, weighed, or graphed. Your power comes from passion; feed your dreams and you will thrive”

Erica Rivera

I am at a point in my life now where I have my future ahead of me. I am currently looking for exciting new jobs and then I’ll be planning a trip around the world. I am not going to be able to achieve everything I am capable off if I keep waking up exhausted because I’m out of fuel. I need to nourish myself for the journey ahead of me.

No one in a future job interview is going to ask me for my weight or BMI. They are going to want to hear about my valuable traits, about the things that matter. They will want to know that I am hardworking, organised and ambitious. Not whether I’ve gone up or down a dress size. They will want to get to know me. If Ed is lurking around, I wont be able to reach my full potential and I wont be able to thrive.

Time to try harder.

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Together We Are Stronger

I have recently been planning what I will be doing after university. My parents are being supportive of my decisions and wanting to help me find a good solution. However, I told them that I want to “figure it out alone”. When I told my Dad this, he replied saying “Sorry, but I don’t know what that means”.

At the time I was frustrated with his response. I thought he wasn’t listening to what I wanted and that he wasn’t even trying to understand. He just wanted to be right (sorry Dad). And although it pains me to say this… I think he was right on this particular occasion. We don’t need to do anything alone. Being alone is a horrible feeling.

Today also got me thinking that if I had to do things alone all the time, life would be a hell of a lot harder. People often say that only YOU can beat your eating disorder, but you don’t have to do it alone. I think this is so true. Only I can beat Ed. It is a part of me and unfortunately only I can fully destroy it. But if I didn’t have my friends and family on my side in this battle, the fight would be impossible.

I have been struggling a lot with body image recently. The self-hatred every time I look in the mirror is getting seriously painful and I would do anything for it to go away. I look forward to a day when I can look at myself in the mirror and love my body. I had told myself I would go to the gym today and because I was so tired after a week of living in the library I didn’t manage to get there this morning. It got to 7pm and the voices in my head were screaming at me to go. It was dinner time, it was a saturday night, and I couldn’t think of many worse things than going to the gym. But, I got my gym kit on ready to leave.

Seconds before leaving the house I took a second to properly think about what I was doing. I instantly got on my phone to contact my friend and talk it through. I knew deep down I was doing the wrong thing. She told me to take my gym kit off and not go. I am stronger than Ed. All I needed to do to prove it was change into some comfy clothes and start making dinner. I took some deep breaths and after 10 minutes of deciding what to do I managed to do the right thing. Although it felt like a failure, I know it was a victory.

As I was sat in my room in tears, trying to take off some stupid gym kit, I was reminded that I couldn’t fight this illness alone. And I am so lucky that I don’t need to. If it wasn’t for my friend S today, I would have gone to the gym and Ed would have got even louder.

People always say that Eating Disorders are a “family illness”. They don’t just affect the sufferer, it affects the family too. Well in my case, I think my eating disorder is a ‘family and friends illness’. I most definitely haven’t been Ed’s only victim over the past few years, and I can never thank my friends and family enough for sticking by me. If I were alone, I dread to think what my life could look like.

The Calm After The Storm

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Today I went to church with a friend of mine. I have been wanting to go for a while and today I finally went.

After worship people could come to the front and minister. It was a chance for people to share stories that they felt would be relevant to other people in the service. One man talked about a picture he had seen of a ship. I can’t remember exactly how he described it, but he said something like, although the ship had just come out of a storm, the sea was a calm and clear and the ship seemed peaceful upon the water. However, the lighthouse in the corner of the picture was a reminder of the danger that had passed. The ship could continue to be at peace away from the storm, but it was important for the captain to keep an eye on the lighthouse out of the corner of his eye. The captain had to remember the danger and keep his eye out for any other storms.

I felt as though I could really relate to what he said. This whole journey of recovery has been like a sea storm. I have been through ups and downs. I have been frightened and scared. At times I feared my ship was sinking but I managed to stay afloat.

However, I am now beginning to feel like I am coming out the other side of the storm. The sea feels calmer, the water is clearer, the sky is brighter. I am more in control of my ship and I am steering myself closer to safety. However, I always keep a keen eye on my eating disorder, like the captain keeps an eye on the lighthouse. I don’t want to forget about the storm, or loose sight of it because I need to remember how bad it was in order to keep moving forward. I need to keep my eye on the danger so I don’t hit another storm without warning. I need to keep my eating disorder in sight, because I don’t want it creeping up behind me when I’m not ready.

But for now, I am grateful that my ship is sailing and not sinking and the waters are feeling calmer.

 

Steering Clear From The Sideline

This weekend is the Half Marathon in my city. Half Marathons remind me of a variety of things. Whilst I was living in Paris I signed up to do the Paris half. It was a way to make me train. Motivation to pull me out of bed in the morning and run. Keep running. And run some more. It was a way of hiding behind my eating disorder… People would congratulate me for training for a half marathon. It was fuel for Ed. Strength for Ed. Food for Ed. Little did I know that signing up for the half marathon would make me addicted to exercise and diagnosed with “exercise bulimia”.

Fortunately I started therapy in Paris in the January. The half marathon was in March. After many therapy sessions and a lot of conversations with my self-help group and sponsor, I was able to drop out of the race. I learnt that if I were to run the race and cross the finish line, it would be my Eating Disorder who had won. Not me.

However, as my friend was competing in the race she wanted me to come and support her. Although I knew it would be triggering and not the right thing for my recovery, I felt obliged to show my support. I sat, I watched, I cheered and I cried. The sound of Ed screaming in my ear was unbearable. The thoughts running through my mind were painful.

So whilst I showed strength in not running the race, I wasn’t strong enough to put myself first and not watch. I put other people before myself in another desperate attempt to people please. This year however, things have changed. I have realised that recovery has to come first. Staying on track and staying healthy is more important than a couple or cheers from the sideline. Today I am able to stay strong in recovery by removing myself from triggering situations. I know my triggers and I know how to avoid them. I can show support to my friends running the race in other ways. I don’t need to be on the sideline.

Enjoy!

Today I had my weigh in and I had the biggest weekly gain I’ve ever had. Thankfully I had an appointment with my therapist straight after so I talked it all through.

I explained how it is so much easier to cope with weight loss rather than gain. No surprise there. When I put on weight Ed is deafening loud. This morning he was shouting his head off and it freaked me out. But what I am trying to do today is challenge that voice and give myself a voice too to try and fight him. However, the best way I can fight and win today is by completing all of my food plan.

Today my therapist reminded me that I need to be consistent in my battle against Ed. If I restrict today because of the weight gain, I am handing over power to Ed.

I also spoke to my mum who said that I need to remember that as long as I stay with Ed, I will need to compromise what I do in life. I explained to my therapist how I didn’t think this was true. I said that for years and years I’ve controlled my food and so it’s just a way of life now, I’ve never known different. Sure, when things got really bad it stopped me doing things but now I go out for dinner, go clubbing, drinks with friends etc. I said that I’m not having to make huge compromises. However, what I wasn’t really realising was that unlike my friends I can’t always truly enjoy meals out or enjoy drinking in the same way. Im still not able to choose what I always want, or go out without feeling like I need to punish myself the next day. So, although I may be still doing these things, I am questioning whether I enjoy them.

I’ve had enough of Ed telling me I can’t enjoy themselves. All my friends get to enjoy it, thousands of students at uni can go out (even get chips on the way home) and not punish themselves the day after. So why don’t i deserve the same happiness?

So this week I am not going to solely look at recovery as a number on the scales, but look at recovery as a life of freedom, a life of enjoyment and a life of pleasure. The weight gain is just a step to get there, not the end in itself. And if I need to complete my food plan every day in order to enjoy life more, I think it’s worth it.

From Anorexic to Recovering Anorexic

I have been going to OA (a 12 step programme for anorexics, bulimic’s and overeaters) since February. Every time I sat in the room I would say ‘Hi, I’m Juniper, and I’m an Anorexic’. Now I have decided to no longer use these words. Instead, I say, ‘Hi, I’m Juniper and I’m recovering from Anorexia’.

It is important for me to not give any power to my Eating Disorder. I don’t believe that I am still just an anorexic … I am in recovery. Every time I tell someone I am an ‘Anorexic’, Ed get’s the limelight and a pat on the back. In a way, telling people I am an Anorexic keeps me sick. So now, I only tell people the truth: I am recovering from Anorexia.