A Mistake I Made When I Was Recovering from My Eating Disorder
I made a mistake. It took many, many years to recover from my eating disorder. It took me a really long time. That wasn’t the mistake though. I know I did it the right way, slowly and patiently. Taking each day and every mouthful at its own pace, making sure every step I took felt right before I moved on to the next. But still, a mistake was made.
And it was this; when I finally considered myself well and free from the crippling constraints of Bulimia and Anorexia, when the fear of food no longer gripped me by the neck, heart and head, I thought that I was free. I believed that I was finally fully formed, fixed. There was the mistake. I wasn’t. I am well, I am very well. I eat well, I enjoy food and although my old habits and fears around food do revisit me on occasion, I consider myself to have a fairly good relationship with food, and my body. Most of the time. But something struck me quite heftily the other day.
I was seeing my Shiatsu guy, Gary, and something he said made my eyes well up fast. I’ve been seeing Gary for Shiatsu therapy for quite a few years, I see him as and when I need to, or when I can afford it. Initially I started seeing him for physical pains. My neck and hip have been giving me issues for many years, stemming it would seem from held emotion, stress and anxiety. Being an anxious person tends to make you spend your entire day, and night, with a clenched jaw and uptight shoulders. Heck, sometimes when I’m trying to fall asleep in bed I’ll realize my shoulders are up around my neck and I need to drop them, to let go and allow myself to relax. Gary (Magic Gary as I like to call him) was working on my neck the other day, the sides of my neck, an area which generally gets ignored. I noticed how sore it felt, not tight, just real sore and it brought with it a flush of emotion as if I needed to burst into tears. I commented on this and Gary said he was working on the meridian which is all to do with nurture and feeling supported. I said ‘Hmmm, those words seem to strike a chord with me. Which is odd as I have a really great and loving family’. ‘Ah’ I said, a light switching on in my head, ‘but I don’t support or nurture myself.’ Cue the tears. Shiatsu is great for me as it deals with the emotional issues that are causing the physical pain. Some may think it’s all a bit wifty-wafty but, jeepers, it works for me. This man has the most calming manner and he has all but eradicated my hip pain of 10 years, now to carry on working on the rest, and I have full belief that he can make it all better. Well, he can make my own body make itself better.
It was a moment, a call. A call to action for myself. I did indeed beat my eating disorder. And for that I am immensely proud and grateful. Having been literally floored by the illness for 15 years, I became free of it over 10 years ago. But whilst I overcame the way I used food to deal with feelings, sadness, fear and doubt, I hadn’t conquered my head. I am still the same girl with all those fears and anxieties but I live with them in a healthier way. I try my best to manage me and my mind. But, it aint easy and the lack of self love, which so often instigates an eating disorder is a really hard thing to triumph over. It’s obviously something I thought I had beaten along with the eating, but I need to keep reminding myself to be nice to me. You know what my first thought was when I realized I didn’t nurture myself? I thought ‘You stupid girl, did you forget to love yourself, AGAIN?’ See, I immediately beat myself up. I take blame, I assume I don’t deserve, I always put everyone else’s needs above my own. Sure, I buy myself nice face creams and take long baths, but that's superficial, instagrammable self care. I don’t support or accept myself, heck, I positively apologise for being me most of the time. I overthink to the point where it drives my crazy, I disregard my own needs and wants so as not to get in other people’s way. I truly cherish those that I love, so much, but I don’t cherish me. I’m making a fully conscious effort to say nice things to myself, to allow myself, to trust myself, speak up for myself, to feel worthy. It’s gonna be a journey that probably won’t ever reach an end point, surely stuff like this is a lifetime thing, right? Do we ever hit that point where we actually fully love ourselves and look after ourselves? I am gonna try. Time out for yoga everyday, let myself know it’s OK if I don’t finish that to do list each time, to remind myself that just because I’m too busy to accept a friends coffee invite, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad friend. Stuff like that. Not to feel self hatred when I see a wrinkle on the magnifier mirror when it’s 2 cm from my face in harsh bright daylight. To let myself believe I am beautiful and wonderful. To be as good to myself as I am to my best friends. I wouldn’t ever tell my bestie that her wrinkles make her look like a haggard old witch, that her lazy ass was getting saggy or that she was a failure for not making that important phone call yet. But I do all these things to myself, all the damn time. It’s time for switchin’ it up to some proper self lovin’.
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This post is an updated and edited version of a piece I wrote a couple of years ago.