THE BLOG

Imperfectly Recovering From Anorexia

21/03/2017 17:09 GMT | Updated 21/03/2017 17:09 GMT
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I started my blog in February 2016, intending to document my recovery through anorexia, an illness which had put my life on hold for two years. Some days I wanted to recover, some days I was lying. I was stuck.

I looked online at other recovery blogs to see how they had moved themselves from this impossible place- able to see what life could look like yet unable to lift even a fork to action it.

I struggled to relate to some existing blogs as their relationships with food, diet and exercise echoed my existing disordered thoughts.

The measure of self-worth still seemed to centre around what was on your plate vs how many times you went to the gym that week.

I wanted to find a real balance; a good relationship with exercise, where I could enjoy it and not do it excessively, out of obligation or compulsion. A balance with food whereby I could eat- guilt free- both for fuel and for pleasure, not too much and not too little. When I started this blog, I had no idea how close the latter two were linked. But most of all, I wanted the way I saw myself- the way I zoomed in on my waist- to stop overpowering my real worth.

I found the rose-tinted hindsight other recovery stories were written with so difficult to apply to myself. It made me feel so painfully lonely that I was not recovering by falling in love with weight-lifting. I felt like I was failing at recovery because I wasn't busy finding obscure ways of making brownies with avocados and other impossible-to-pronounce ingredients that you could only find at the end of the Earth- if you wrestled with a lion first and then tweeted about it.

I am not criticising a healthy lifestyle and, maybe, my slight bitter taste comes from the jealous part of me that wanted to recover in that way. Instead, I turned to binge eating which I could not comprehend. I sought validation for this but "control" and "discipline" still seemed the Plat du Jour of recovery stories, leaving me feeling like a doomed alien.

Of course, there were plenty like me, who's frustration and shame that they were not recovering "perfectly" just pushed them further into themselves.

I wanted to read about what these girls, who seemed to sweat glitter while looking perfect in their gym kit, did when they felt they couldn't cope; how they found the strength and energy to run and lift and skip when their brain told them to curl up and die. I wanted the gory details- not the photos proving I still didn't do anorexia right- or else it didn't seem relevant.

So, I decided to document my own, painful-bite-by-painful-bite, so people know that recovery is imperfect.

I wanted to have the proof, so that when I am recovered, which I will be, I can talk about all the running, lifting, skipping and eating I'm doing but also say:

Look! This is what had to happen first. I came from this so it can also be achievable for you too, no matter how bad it gets.

A lot has changed in the year I've been writing. I realised my food struggles started waaaaaay before they were physically recognisable; a long time before my family (and clearly me) noticed. I realised my relationship with food has always had some form of emotion behind it. I realised my appearance has always been the only way I could truly value myself. All the main ingredients for an eating disorder.

I learnt eating disorders are not the neat, separate definitions you hear about- they are much more "mix" than "pick." I realised recovery is not a clear, linear journey upward; it is ugly, at times impossible and can take you in all sorts of directions including backward.

It tests your resolve, strength and stamina more than any work out ever will.

I realised, during this, I have depression. I probably have had for a while and the eating issues were reactionary as opposed to precursory. I was just too embarrassed to say it out loud- there are apparently cooler, more glamourous mental illnesses to have.

Mostly, I've realised I'm not the negative pessimist I once thought. I can't be or I'd have given up ages ago but, I refuse to accept that this is just "me." 

I'm still not cured, I'm far from where I thought I'd be by now but it's a necessary pit stop for the final place; to live a life where my mood is not controlled by food, exercise and mostly, my dress size.

There have been a couple of detours along the way but the destination looks far richer for it. While I'm still figuring it out, you can read about how not to recover from anorexia here.

See you on the other side.

An earlier version of this article appeared on http://www.whatapieceofcake.com