Goodbye 2013

With 2013 drawing to a close I have been reflecting on the past year. 2013 has had it’s challenges. I began a road to recovery and have had my fair share of up’s and down’s. I have had to change the way I do things, the way I see things, the way I live my life. I have had to embark upon a journey, which at times has seemed never ending, and somehow had to find the strength to keep pushing forward and keep fighting every day. However, despite giving me a lot of s**t, the past year has seen some good times. I spent 6 months in Paris with one of my best friends and had some of the best times of my life (Thank you D), I met a new friend for life who I couldn’t live without (thank you again for everything S), I celebrated my 21st Birthday, I became a proud member of “Fight Club”, I had my first ever “holiday romance”, I moved into a house in Bath with 5 great friends and I have began to start experiencing freedom and learning to live again. So whilst I am not too sad about 2013 coming to an end, I am forever grateful to all of my family and my amazing friends for getting me through the past year. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Tomorrow comes a New Year and with it comes a fresh start. In order to mark this fresh start I have a New Years Resolution:

Face My Fears & F**k It 

I am going to make a conscious effort to keep facing my fears as I strongly believe that the key to recovery is to Face Everything And Recover. As well as facing my food fears, I am also going to face fear in other areas of my life. To get an early start I went on a date last night (Something I would never have done a year ago), and I can honestly say I had a good time. It was a nice reminder that life is a whole lot more fun when Ed isn’t running the show. 

I am also going to try and live by the rule of F**k It! To explain… my sister bought me a book for Christmas called “The way of F**k it”. In the blurb it says: “Saying F**k it and giving up on things that are causing you pain; saying f**k it and following your dreams, no matter what other people think: this is the Way of F**k it. And Following this Way can transform your life.” The book offers short, inspirational thoughts that you can use to bring the wisdom of F**k it into your life.

A few of my favorites are:

  • You don’t have to get it right all the time. F**k it.
  • Stop judging everyone and everything. F**k it. It’s just boring.
  • Say F**k it and eat it.
  • So I’m different. F**k it.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. F**k it. There are always ‘better’ and ‘worse’ people out there.
  • F**k it. Do the thing today that most scares you.
  • Say F**k it and cancel your gym membership
  • Say F**k it to excelling at work: explore the average; revel in your weaknesses.
  • Say F**k it and catch a train to somewhere you’ve never been before

So this year marks what I hope will be a new beginning. I know there will still be down days. I know I will still need to face challenges. And I know that Ed is unlikely to leave me alone. But the difference today is that I am stronger and happier than I was a year ago and I am going to continue finding the strength to keep fighting. The best thing that happened in 2013 was learning that embracing freedom and living life is a whole lot better than a life with Ed. If facing my fears and saying F**k it from time to time can help me down this road to recovery, then that’s what I will do. So Goodbye Ed and Hello Me! Ed took the limelight in 2013, 2014 is mine!

Happy New Year!

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“Everything will be ok”

A couple of weeks ago I had two final interviews in London for grad jobs and last week I found out I didn’t make the cut on either. Admittedly, I didn’t make my life easy by applying to two of the best ad agencies in the world. However, I did make it to the last stage of both and so I need to celebrate that success.

 

On the way home I rang my friend and I was feeling a bit low. I didn’t think it had gone that well and when I hung up the phone I could feel myself wanting to cry. A young guy was sat next to me and he said ‘I’m sorry to interrupt but I just wanted to check if you were ok. You look really upset’. I said that I was ok and he went on to tell me that working is really hard and it is tough out there and he understands (Not that he was listening to my conversation or anything….!). He then went on to say that he wanted to give me a gift to make me feel better. He had a Polaroid camera and he said I had a beautiful smile and that he wanted to take a picture of me smiling so I could look at it and remember, “everything would be ok”.

 

It was very sweet and I was touched by his kindness. In fact, he definitely made my day and the picture is up in my room so I have a constant reminder that “everything will be ok”.

 

And he was right. Although I got declined for both of the jobs, I believe everything happens for a reason. Now, I have decided to take a year out and enjoy my summer after graduation. After a fun summer I am going to get a job for 6 months and save up some money. Then, in January, my best friend and I are going to travel the world! Plus, I am confident in my ability in what I want to do and I know that I can reapply next year and hopefully be successful.

 

I have always wanted to travel and I always feared that when I grew up my biggest regret would be the fact I hadn’t seen the world. However, I am so confortable with routine, always aim high and so scared to break the norm that I applied to jobs and was all ready to follow the standard A levels to Uni to Grad scheme route.

 

I believe that not getting these jobs is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me this year. If I got the jobs, I would be starting work in September. Instead, I am now facing a 7 month trip discovering the world.

 

It has taught me that like I need to face my fears when it comes to food, I also need to start embracing fear in other areas of my life. Not starting work straight away and moving back in with my parents (sorry mum & dad) is a scary thought for me. It makes me feel like I have somehow failed at something. But instead of letting that fear stop me, I am going to embrace it.

 

Life is about more than getting the best grades and getting the best job and earning the most money. Sure, those things are great, but I’m never going to be lying on my death bed and wishing I had got a better grade at uni or worked more hours. I will however look back and wished I had enjoyed my twenties, had fun, experienced freedom and embraced everything life has to offer.

 

My year off is going to be a year to grow up and a year of freedom. One thing I have learnt recently is that my anorexia has definitely stunted my emotional development. I was numb for so long from proper emotions that I didn’t properly “grow up” and develop like some of my peers. Plus, being ill put me back into the role of a child. I turned 21 and went into a clinic. I wasn’t able to look after myself, and yet I was meant to be an ‘adult’. While everyone else was out partying and travelling last summer, I was learning how to eat cheesecake and pasta. While everyone else was having relationships with boys, I was in an abusive relationship with Ed. I needed professional support in order to perform, what for most people, is the simplest of tasks.

 

So, I am going to see my year off as a year of personal development. A year of freedom. And a year of fun. I will be independent, grow up, learn more about myself and have a bloody good time doing it!

 

So, to the guy on the train from Paddington to Bath, you were right… “Everything will be ok”. 

A Taste Of Freedom

This week I went to see my therapist for the first time in a few weeks. It was so nice to be able to go with some positive things to talk about. When I had stopped rambling about what I’d been up to these past few weeks, she said “What you’re talking about is freedom“. 

Unlike the past few weeks of my life, a life with Ed is a life with a million rules. His rule book is so long that you become a prisoner in your own body. Everything you do is contaminated by Ed and nothing can be done with ease. 

Living with more freedom has made me realise that although I may have done “normal” things before, I never did them normally. I may have gone out for a drink with a friend, gone for lunch, or gone shopping. But I couldn’t do any of those things normally. I wouldn’t enjoy them. And there would be a lot of things to do prior, during and after each activity in order to please Ed.

What I’ve also realised is that I would never, ever let anyone treat me the way I let Ed treat me. I wouldn’t let anyone push me around, make me feel guilty, beat me, starve me, hurt me and upset me. So why did I do it to myself? Now that I am starting to take care of myself and be kind to myself, I feel so much happier. I am trying to treat myself in the same way I would treat a 5 year old version of myself. I would take care of her, love her, look after her, feed her, nourish her, let her dream, let her be happy and most importantly, let her be free.

Cloud 9!

Today is a great day! 

It is so wonderful to be home, I am currently sat in the kitchen with the smell of home cooking and it is so nice to not be afraid of the smell, but actually excited by it. I was speaking to my therapist today and she asked if my fear around food is decreasing. I was a bit hesitant at first, but the truth is that the fear is becoming less less (that’s not to say that some foods don’t still freak me out, but compared to 6 months ago, the fear is undoubtedly decreased). She pointed out that it can be a very hard thing to admit, because it feels like you’re loosing control, but actually, it is just a sign of strong recovery. So as scary as it is to admit, I am actually looking forward to my dinner this evening. 

I also forgot my scales to weigh my portions. This would normally have thrown me into a spin and my Dad would have had to go and buy me some new ones. But, this time, I’m happy to make do with what we’ve got… no big deal!

Another reason why today is great, I got my hair done… Always a pleasure!

And I’m also buzzing because my job hunt is going rather swimmingly at the moment.

I’m feeling really happy and it isn’t just because I’ve completed my food plan. It’s because I’m actually living again. 

A Journey Of Recovery Is The Path To Life

Image

Today it was time for another Art Therapy class. Once again, we had to represent how we were feeling on a page and the image above is what I came up with.

 

I have stopped viewing my journey of recovery as a path to my target weight. Now, I am seeing my journey of recovery as a path to life. I want my life back. 

 

For me, this picture represents how recovery is a journey. I often represent my ED using the colour red because it symbolises pain, fear and challenges. The beginning of the road to recovery is difficult and things get in your way (represented with trees, bumps, pedestrians and diversion signs trying to tell you to turn around!). The path seems very narrow and there are lots of corners you need to turn which are frightening because you never know what is going to be on the other side. The road is still winding very slowly and it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

However, recovery gets easier. Sooner or later you get to the ‘orange zone’. Your path begins to widen and you start to get more freedom. Things have become less scary and there are less corners to turn. Things still get in your way but not as many as before. You can get around them. 

 

The black arrows down the middle of the path symbolise that the only way is forward. If you have made the decision to go into recovery, then I believe you can only move forward. There is no moving back. Some days you may not get very far or you may even have a fall, but that doesn’t mean you move backwards down the path. You may just stay in the same place for a short while. 

 

As you keep moving forward your path become even wider. You start to experience more freedom and then you can start walking back into life. Here, you are in the light and you finally have clarity. You can experience freedom and opportunity.

 

Picasso, eat your heart out!

Throwing Away The Rule Book

Last week I was asked to write down my rules for living. My therapist believed that our early experiences shape our beliefs and opinions which in turn, affect our rules for living.

My rule book was as follows:

  • If I’m thin, then I’m more beautiful. If I’m more beautiful then I’m more loveable 
  • If I’m thin then I’m more successful. If i’m more successful then i’m more recognised and loved
  • If I restrict then I’m doing well. If I am doing well then I’m stronger
  • If I obey Ed I feel like I am achieving. If I’m achieving then I’m more successful
  • If I eat less than others, then I’m more superior. If I’m more superior then I’m more successful and therefore I’m achieving 
  • If I am thin then I am more liked. If I am more liked then I am less lonely

 

After writing this down, my overwhelming feeling was sadness. I felt sad that I was living by such harsh and painful rules.

Also, a lot of the rules are incredibly ironic. For instance, being thin didn’t make me more liked and less lonely. In fact, it made me lose friendships which made me more isolated. Similarly, being thin doesn’t make me more beautiful. It isn’t attractive to be thin. It is also insane that I thought being thin made me stronger and more recognised. The only person to gain strength and recognition throughout my anorexia was Ed…most definitely not ME!

 

So after being encouraged to move away from the “if…then’s…” I have come up with a new rulebook:

 

  • LIVE LIFE WELL (This is a key new rule for me. It is time to start living. And to do so I need balance: Time for fun, time for work and time for relationships)
  • To matter to me today, just the way I am (If this means other people don’t like me, that’s their problem, not mine.It is never possible to be liked by everyone, and having this belief will only lead to negative feeling and a loss of self-esteem) 
  • Take chances 

 

Time to start following the rules!

Freedom fighters

In one of CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) groups I recently shared how eating more than my food plan makes me feel guilty. I was asked about the thinking behind these feelings and what I was thinking to make me feel guilty. I said that I thought I was out of control.

For those of you who don’t know much about CBT, you are encouraged to challenge what you think so that it will change how you feel. One of the girls in the group had a great answer to how you can challenge the thought that you are out of control when you eat more than your plan. She said ‘You’re not out of control, you’re gaining freedom’.

So next time you feel out of control, remember that it is not YOU who is out of control, it’s ed. although you may feel as though your eating disorder gives you full control, that isn’t true. When i restrict my food and over-exercise it is the eating disorder who has full control of me. So going a step up the ladder and having more than your plan is gaining freedom and gaining control over ed.