Welcome Back!

It feels like ages since my last blog post. In between 5 Final Year exams followed by 10 days of celebrations I haven’t found the time to keep writing. I have so much to say…

Firstly, I have officially FINISHED 4 years of University, I am a Graduate! It feels so strange to be done with education. I have always been a hard worker and knew I wanted to study Management and French from quite a young age. I worked hard during school and have worked my socks off for the past four years at university. For anyone getting through uni is an achievement. Getting through Uni whilst fighting an eating disorder is an achievement that makes me very proud.

Half way through my exams I went to see my therapist for our weekly chat. I shared my anxieties about the end of uni. Whilst I was looking forward to finishing exams, I couldn’t deny that the idea of 10 days of drinking, partying and eating was making me a little nervous. I also admitted that my plan was to enjoy the partying but keep super healthy during my exams. I was then planning on spending a couple of weeks hitting the gym, eating healthy/restricting in advance of my two week summer holiday. Her response was: ‘So you are planning on ruining your holiday?’. She reminded me that if I spend two weeks listening to Ed and welcome him into my life, it is unlikely that I will be able to shut him out when I get on the plane to go on holiday. It just doesn’t work like that. The best preparation for my holiday and to enjoy summer is to keep fighting the eating disorder and do everything I can to stick two fingers up at it!

I took her advice on board and identified all the little things that are still tying me to Ed. For example, when I don’t have dessert, Ed wins. If I gym more than a set number of times a week, Ed wins. If I avoid fear foods, Ed wins. I pictured all these little things as strings that tied me to Ed. By facing my fears, eating dessert, and sticking to my exercise plan I can cut the strings and move myself further away from Ed. This is what I did during my two week exam period. I enjoyed dessert every night, stuck to my food plan, faced fear foods regularly and avoided the gym. Not only did I have the energy to work long hours, it also kept me more focused. I didn’t waste time thinking of what to eat and when to eat it. However, more importantly, by fighting my eating disorder and making my voice louder, I was also well prepared to enjoy the post-exam celebrations. And my God we had a good time!

We had a flat meal and champagne on the final exam day and then I went to a festival all weekend with the girls and consumed a copious amount of Cider! We then had a course night out, another girls night out and the Summer Ball which was a night to remember! In the day time we went shopping, fed the hangovers, made sushi, watched films and enjoyed time off. It was an amazing week and I am so so happy that I will always be able to look back at the end of my final year and have brilliant memories.

In some ways it makes me sad to think that if it wasn’t for my eating disorder, more of my time at university could have been like last week. But I know that there is no point in having regrets. I am just going to use this as motivation to keep on fighting. Experiencing how fun life can be without Ed is just making me more and more determined to live the rest of my life without him.

With the celebrations over I now have a few weeks off before we go on our family summer holiday. We are going back to the same place we went last year. The only difference is that when we went last year, I was fresh out the clinic. I had a good time but I plan on doing things differently this year. I most definitely will be having wine with my dinner, I will not be packing my own cereal in my suitcase, and I will not be taking scales. I also intend on getting ready with a G&T in my hand instead of my afternoon milkshake. I won’t insist we eat at regimented times and I won’t plan every lunch 5 days in advance. I won’t be packing last years ‘anorexic’ wardrobe, I will be packing a new summer wardrobe in clothes which make me look great! Unlike last year, I am not nervous about the holiday. I don’t feel the need to sit down with my parents before we go and talk about coping strategies and I won’t be discussing it for hours on end with a therapist. Instead, I am just excited. I am excited to be in the sun, eat amazing food and most importantly, spend some quality time with my friends and family.

After my holiday I will be starting a new job for 6 months before I go travelling. In between last weeks partying I managed to get into work for a couple of handover days. The job sounds great and I am really excited to get started. Plus, one of my best friends works at the same office which is going to be great! One thing that surprised me was that nearly every woman in the office spent their lunch breaks talking about their latest slimming world class, weight watchers group, diet pills or latest exercise fad. Most of the women are in their early 30’s and it seems that not one of them was happy with their body… And they didn’t mind talking about it! It got me thinking… Firstly, there is no way I would have been able to cope in a workplace like that last year. It would have been seriously triggering. Secondly, although it has been seriously shit having an eating disorder and it has stolen years of my youth, I like to think that going forward, I won’t be hung up on diet fads. I tried the fads and it went seriously wrong. I got very ill and learnt the hard way. But in future, I believe I will be able to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle and love me just the way I am!

So all in all, looking back on the last month or so makes me very proud. I have finished uni, had an incredible time celebrating and am the closest to ‘recovered’ that I have ever been before. Everyone always says the journey of recovery is a long one, and they wern’t wrong. But like every journey, there is a finish line, a final destination, an end. I feel as if I now know what I need to do to reach the end. At times I try and tell myself I don’t know what to do, but I am lying. I know when Ed is winning and I know how to turn his voice down. I just need to be brave enough to do it.

I feel as though I have just got to the top of a huge hill on my journey. It was one hell of a climb but the finish line is now in sight. It was hard work getting here, but now the road isn’t looking as rough. It is a smoother ride, I’ve just got to be brave enough to keep on marching forward. My eating disorder stole my 20th year, it got hold of my 21st but I am turning 22 in July and I am ready to say goodbye. I feel as though I am getting my life back, learning how to life and discovering so many amazing new things that weren’t possible when I was living life with Ed. So I am proud to welcome myself back, wave goodbye to Ed, and keep marching forward!

It’s good to be back.

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Oscar Wilde’s Top 10 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life

I saw this on Facebook today and thought it was worth sharing! 
 
1. On Love
Keep” love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
 
2. On Education
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” 
 
3. On Being Yourself

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

4. On Forgiveness

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” 

5. On Relationships

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”

6. On Advice

“The only good thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.” 

7. On Living

“Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”

8.On Happiness

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” 

9. On Temptation

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” 

10. On Emotions

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” 

“Because someone we love is in heaven, there is a little bit of heaven in our home”

Only yesterday was I laughing, smiling, and grateful for such a happy and positive start to the new year. In fact, my friend said I was ‘glowing’. As soon as he said it I knew I was back and Ed had taken a backseat!

 

This morning I found out the sad news that my Grandad had passed away. I have never had to deal with death close to me. I am grateful everyday for the fact I have had four grandparents until I was 21. I am incredibly close to all of them. I know my Grandad is in peace now but I can’t help but feeling annoyed that whilst everything in life seemed to be going so well, there is yet another test. Another challenge. And another battle. And this time not just for me, but for all my family. I don’t want me or my family to be sad, in pain, mourning or crying.

 

Only last night my friend shared with me that “God thew all this shit in my face, yet he knew I had the strength, patience, determination to deal with it”. People are given challenges in life when God believes they are strong enough to deal with it. So for today, I am going to hold onto the fact that me and my family are strong enough to get through this. 

 

My Grandad had a long and happy life and that is something to celebrate. I don’t know how to mourn, fortunately I have never had to, so I don’t know what I should be doing right now. So I am going to celebrate the good and happy life of my Grandad, be grateful that I spent Christmas with him, be grateful that he saw all his family over Christmas and try my best to keep laughing and smiling. I know that my Grandad was happiest when he saw his family ‘glowing’.

 

 

 

 

 

“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”. 

Life on the other side of the page

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Today I had an art therapy class and the image attached is what I drew. Let me explain the two sides:

Left hand side: Life with ED
To me, living with an eating disorder is like living in a bubble. The bubble is in the world, there are people and life going on outside it, but you can never really connect with it yourself. As long as you’re with ED, you are in a bubble. Inside this bubble everything is grey and dull. You have moments of happiness and moments of sadness, but it isn’t <em>real</em> happiness and <em>real</em> sadness. Because in this bubble you loose touch with true emotions. You also have such low self esteem and such little care for yourself whilst you are under Ed’s control, and this is why I have represented myself with no bodily features… just a mere figure of a person. A shadow.

Right hand side: Life without ED
On this side of the page everything is clearer. There is no more grey. Your feet are firmly on the ground and you are a part of the world. You can experience the sun and life around you. You can connect with people, become close to others and be a part of normality again. You take care of yourself and look after yourself. Like on the left hand side of the page, there is happiness and sadness, but unlike the left hand side, you can actually experience these emotions clearly and they are real. You have freedom.

I am sure that if you showed this image to anyone, eating disorder or not, and didn’t explain anything behind the image, but simply asked them: If you could spend one day in either one of these worlds, which one would it be? No one in their right mind would ask for a day on the left hand side of the page.

Please note: The stick men are in no way a representation of body image/size…Just stick men!