Ever made a life-changing decision? One that takes so much painstaking thought, and conversations with family, friends, and colleagues? Part of growing up and moving on to great things involves it.
One of the hardest decisions I have had to make is the decision to recover from my eating disorder and deciding to stick to it no matter what.
It was something I was stewing over for a long time, for several years, in fact. But those who have struggled with their body perception or have an eating disorder will understand how difficult it can be to break away from such ways of viewing yourself.
I liken the experience to a lightbulb moment. A moment where I found myself completely miserable in my current state, feeling like this was one thing that was holding me back from fulfilling my potential. Something which dictated the way I experienced life around me, my relationships, and more importantly, it dictated the way I felt about myself.
I have made some pretty big life decisions, but the decision to push myself out of an eating disorder was by far the toughest decision. It made me realize the point that recovery is something that can be encouraged by another person, but the true influence behind any change in behaviour comes from personal will.
I had been threatened with being sent to referral units for eating disorder recovery, threatened that I would have heart failure amongst many other things, all of which were true and would have happened. However, my own personal frustration and a general sense of “I’m sick of being miserable, cold, and tired” pushed me to take my recovery into my own hands.
So how did it start?
It was 2015. It was the year leading up to making the decision, and it was probably the toughest time in my personal life. There were so many things going on in my life that I just found myself drifting through life on autopilot.
Once things began to improve, I knew that my experiences would have felt a lot less awful had I not used my eating disorder as a coping strategy to deal with the issues I faced. My eating disorder and the behaviours that accompanied it became a safety blanket which I used whenever I felt any uncomfortable feelings such as stress, anxiety, and depression. I was tired of being held in such a tight chokehold for so many years.
I believe my recovery really started back then when I had decided I had enough of my current situation.
But when did it actually manifest into action?
I distinctly remember it was April 2016. I decided to sit with my family and eat dinner. I had told myself that I would see how it feels to keep the food within me for an hour. So I left the dinner table, went back to my room, and waited. It felt like the longest hour of my life. I kept checking the clock to see how much time was left. I also became hyperaware of any feelings of fullness I felt. For the first time, I felt full but satisfied, as opposed to feeling full and full of dread!
One hour passed. I thought to push myself to sit through another hour, and another, and another. Before I knew it, it had become 6 hours and it was time to sleep. It felt as if I had opened up a dam and let everything out as opposed to controlling a part of myself. I felt liberated but also extremely worried.
Will I gain weight? What if I can’t stop eating? What if this makes me relapse again?
Like how I dealt with other problems in my life, I just rode the wave.
I remember my friend and I were revising for our final year university exams during this time and it had been a few days since I started to go ‘all in’ with my recovery. It had got easier to sit with the feeling of satiety. However, I probably picked the worst time to start my recovery as I was already a bag of nerves because of my exams.
It was the most intense period in my life. I found that I really struggled with the changes that occurred in my body as they seemed to have intensified as time went on. I think the most noticeable and most uncomfortable difference I found was the intense bloating that accompanied me after every single meal and snack – my body was adapting to refeeding after years of not holding down food or purging in other ways.
Do I regret making the decision? No, absolutely not. I always tried to envision a younger version of myself and the happiness that I’d have felt knowing I was recovering from an illness that consumed my teenage and young adult years.
Would I change anything if I could go back? I think the only I wish I had done is to let my GP know that I was planning to recover on my own. As I believe doing so caused a frenzy within my body; I do recommend speaking to a health professional before making huge lifestyle changes. I know it sounds like common sense, but I had no idea how bad of a condition my body was in after years of undereating.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Please approach any big decisions with caution particularly if they could be life-altering and involve your health. You should always consult a health professional before making any significant changes so they can do a thorough health check and see whether your body is strong enough to withstand major lifestyle changes.
Thanks and I’ll see you on the next one x