A traditional story implies a beginning and an end, but this one has no end. My journey of recovery through anorexia is ongoing - it's a process; it's patience; it's often moving one step forward, two steps back; it's not a result or a full stop; it's about the everyday, the small steps, which test my limits, yet from the outside seem insignificantly inconsequential.
BELIEVING IN RECOVERY
Eating disorders are not a choice - they're rarely planned, calculated or intended. But I believe recovery can be. I have decided to choose fear, embrace challenges and change every day, because when I choose to confront my eating disorder head on, eat that terrifying slice of cake, increase my calories or say "yes" to going for lunch with a friend, I know that I am that one step closer to living the life I can only imagine, regain my identity and finally beat my demons. A mental health illness is not about choice, but recovery is.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in my recovery is believing that anorexia doesn't have to define me and that recovery is possible. Not just for other people, but for me. Fighting for freedom from an eating disorder will be the greatest challenge I will ever face but it will also be the most rewarding and every day it starts with the decision.
IT'S ABOUT THE JOURNEY
Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health, but no one is optimally and perfectly healthy in every aspect. The day that I find freedom from my eating problems, I am sure that I will be working out something else in my life physically or mentally. As the cliché goes, life is not about a destination - it's about a journey.
Setting goals and time limits can be helpful on one hand, but can be stifling on the other. Learning that recovery is a journey, which doesn't have to be rushed or despised and that life is not on pause, has been liberating. In fact, I have learned so much about my emotions and myself during recovery. Our lives do not have to end with mental health illness if you choose to accept the challenge of recovery and move through it a step at a time. I remember the days when getting out of bed was an achievement for me, and at the time, this was all I could manage - small, pivotal steps will all add up to the final masterpiece. The only way to get past anorexia is to go through it.
So if you are struggling with an eating disorder and at whatever place in the spectrum of the illness or recovery you find yourself in, believe that better days are to come and take courage - many do recover and do find freedom.
IT'S YOUR STORY
All you need to know about this story is that every day that I fight my illness, I will be continuing to write my story. I don't know when I will be completely "recovered" whatever that elusive term means or looks like; or when I will be able to end with a happily ever after; or find some complete, perfect wholeness; but I do know for as long as I am experiencing those knee wobbling moments and teeth chattering fear, I know I will be living.
This eating disorder awareness week, I challenge you to be brave, speak out, and reach for help if you need it.
This blog was originally published on YoungMinds.
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