eating disorder · recovery

Accepting and anticipating your demons

Even though I have been diagnosed with anxiety, anorexia and depression for over two years, I have only recently fully started admitting it to myself.

I was honest about my diagnosis from the start and didn’t try to hide it from people, but I don’t think I truly let it in and accepted it in my own head. I still got frustrated when I had days when I was really down or had an anxiety attack. I always used to beat myself up if I found it hard to gain weight, and couldn’t make myself eat more and exercise less even though I said I wanted to recover.

It’s a really hard thing to admit to yourself that your mental illnesses effect the way you think and behave and that you maybe aren’t ‘normal’. It’s one thing stating your diagnosis to others, but it’s a really scary step to admit to yourself that it’s part of you.

But, I’ve discovered that if you accept the mental illnesses you’re struggling with then your battle actually becomes a lot easier.

If I accept that I will have down days when my depression hits, they I can prepare myself for them. If I accept my anxiety then I can recognise panic attacks when they happen and tell myself that the feeling won’t last forever. If I accept my anorexia then I can be less harsh on myself when I struggle with my weight gain, and tell myself that those internal voices telling me to restrict are part of a recognised illness and shouldn’t be trusted.

It is never easy to admit that you’re not perfect, but at the end of the day nobody is. Everyone struggles with their own demons and the sooner you accept yours, the sooner you can start to recover.

Accept your illness as an obstacle that can be defeated, it is part of you but it won’t be forever πŸ™‚ xx

eating disorder · recovery

Push yourself

One incredibly hard battle with anorexia and anxiety is feeling confident enough to meet new people.

Thanks to an amazing job opportunity, today I got to meet lots of new people. That was such a scary feeling for me and it toke all my guts to go but I’m so happy that I did it. I met lots of strong, inspiring people who I look up to and I never want to let my anxiety prevent me from that.

Push the boundaries, push yourself, you may just enjoy it πŸ™‚ xxx

 

 

eating disorder · recovery

Playing the comparison game

The hardest thing I’ve been struggling with in my anxiety and anorexia recovery recently is comparing myself to others.

The nature of both anorexia and anxiety is to make you feel inadequate and worse than everyone else, so when you see yourself eating more than others it can be a massive challenge to tell yourself that you’re not being a bad or greedy person.

A major part of my therapy and recovery has been to accept that I don’t have to deserve to have food and be happy, and that I am entitled to ask for and eat what I want when I want it. As any fellow sufferers will know it’s really hard to put this into practise though, and its easy to slip back into negative thought patterns.

When I’ve been struggling with this I have just tried to remind myself that it is normal that everyone is different. I wouldn’t expect my friends, family and partner to always want to watch exactly the same movie, listen to exactly the same music or dress exactly the same way as me so it’s irrational that I would expect them to eat the same as me.

There will be days when you want to eat more and times when you want to eat less than the people around you and it’s important not to judge yourself for when these peaks and dips in your appetite occur.

The truth is, if you’ve been suffering from anorexia and your body has been underfed for a long time then you probably will feel more hungry and want to eat more than the people around you but that does not mean that you are a bad person.

You’re doing an incredibly brave and difficult thing by choosing to accept recovery but it is the right thing to do. Try not to compare yourself to your loved ones because they are a different person to you and at the end of the day they don’t want anything they do to hold you back, they just want you to recover.

Follow your own path, fight your own battle πŸ™‚ xx

eating disorder · recovery

Anxiety is reasonless

Anxiety is an incredibly frustrating mental illness, because it comes on for no reason.

When I was first diagnosed with anxiety over two years ago I was still at the point when it only set in when I had a legitimate reason to feel anxious. If I was stressed at college, if family was ill, if i lost touch with friends etc but I knew that there was a logical reason.

As my anxiety has progressed this is no longer the case though, and it hits me when I’m least expecting it.

I have had the most amazing holiday week with my boyfriend
We’ve been relaxing, seeing friends and laughing together and I’ve been feeling so positive about my anorexia and putting on weight. Unfortunately there are still moments when I get overwhelmed by my anxiety, my heart starts thumping and my mind starts racing: I’m too thin, I’m too fat, I have to keep the conversation going and be interesting, I’m sounding stupid, I’m not sounding intelligent enough, I look stupid etc.

I feel awful at times like this because I know that I am actually incredibly happy, I have amazing friends and family who I love and I have no reason to feel so overwhelmed and unhappy.

The only solution I have found so far is taking a deep breath and telling myself that my anxious feelings of stress, worthlessness and panic won’t last.

Although it’s the hardest thing in the world to overcome because it’s in your own head I am absolutely committed to overcoming it. I will not let my anxiety stop me enjoying the amazing life and relationships I have.

Be brave, battle your anxiety πŸ™‚ xx

eating disorder · recovery

Enjoying exercise

During anxiety and anorexia recovery I have found it really hard to work out the right amount of exercise.

The standard advice seems to be to stop exercise all together, but, although this makes sense from a recovery and weight gain perspective, I know that for many sufferers this isn’t a realistic option. If you suffer from anxiety and anorexia it is likely that you are an extremely high-functioning, sometimes obsessive person who struggles to be completely inactive for long periods of time. I know that when I tried to completely stop exercising I felt anxious, guilty and restless and it actually increased my anxiety as I felt like I should be doing something that I was simultaneously banning myself from doing.

There is also the other, positive side of the argument – exercise releases hormones that boost your mood, it is an opportunity for fresh air and sunshine and it can allow you to clear your head and get a fresh perspective. So here are my top tips for maintaining healthy exercise in moderation this summer:

  1. Plan your weekly exercise regime when you aren’t feeling stressed – for many anorexia sufferers exercise can be a go-to when you feel out of control of other areas of your life, so it’s important not to fall into the trap of exercising as soon as you feel stressed. Make a plan of two gentle exercise sessions a week at a time when you are feeling calm, so youΒ don’t feel the need to add in loads of sessions.
  2. Stick to your plan – just because you have some spare time doesn’t mean that you have to exercise in it just because you potentially could. This may temporarily relieve your anxiety but this feeling won’t last.
  3. Decide on an exercise alternative – pick a designated activity e.g. colouring, baking, meditating etc. which you can instantly go to if you feel like you want to start exercising outside of your designated slots. Try to make this activity something that you really enjoy and something that makes you feel calm and collected.
  4. Try a new, gentler form of exercise – Try something new so that you’re not comparing yourself to the amount and intensity of exercise you were doing before recovery. Something with low cardio impact like yoga, flexibility, walking etc. are good alternatives to high energy exercise which burns more calories than you want to be when you are in recovery.

I know how difficult it is to change an exercise regime when it has become something that you rely on to feel in control, but unfortunately this is as crucial as eating properly during recovery. Although sticking to your old exercise habits may make you feel better and more in control temporarily, you know that your old waves of anxiety and tiredness will soon come back. Extreme exercise is not a long-term or healthy solution for stress-management.

Change your exercise regime this summer, it will be a massively positive step πŸ™‚ xx

eating disorder · recovery

The worth of relaxation

Since the start of my anxiety and anorexia recovery people have been telling me that I don’t have to deserve relaxation, and I think I’m finally starting to believe it.

Anxiety warps your thought patterns and, atleast in my experience, makes you feel like you only deserve to relax and look after yourself if you have done something impressive to deserve it. I have always taken time out to relax and look after myself, but have felt that I have to push myself extremely hard to deserve even a day or two of relaxation.

I’ve started to realised though that this strategy won’t work for recovery. If your relaxation is only ever making up for pushing yourself, then you will always remain at 0 on your recovery scale and never move forward.

I know that if you suffer from anorexia or anxiety then the thought of resting, relaxing, and treating your body with regular food and sleep feels wrong and unnatural. But I promise you that the more you challenge yourself to do this, the easier it will become.

Since I’ve started relaxing this summer I have started feeling calmer, more centered and more stable. I have been able to sleep better, my mind hasn’t been racing as much and I haven’t been so irritable with my friends and family.

I know that to sufferers reading this, relaxation and taking care of yourself is a really scary challenge to take on because you feel like if you start it then you won’t ever be able to go back to being organised, fit and efficient.

I would really encourage anybody to accept this challenge though. If you have got to the point of needing recovery then you need to start being kinder to yourself and your body. I know this is scary, but I can absolutely guarantee you will feel happier, stronger and calmer.

I still have days when I feel the anxiety rising in my chest and it’s really hard to persevere with my recovery but I know that it’s worth it. I am better than any illness and I am going to beat it by committing to taking care of myself.

Relaxation will make you a better version of you, accept it and start getting stronger πŸ™‚ xx

eating disorder · recovery

Anxiety is awful, but manageable

Anxiety is difficult because you feel overwhelmed by stuff that other people find really easy to deal with.

It’s awful because you start feeling really anxious and rubbish when someone talks about something that’s slightly difficult for you to deal with.

I know that I feel really embarrassed to show that side of myself in front of my family. I know that they love me and think of me as strong and don’t want to see me with an episode of depression or anxiety. It makes me feel crap and unwanted when I can’t appear in the strong, coping way I want to in front of my family.

I’m trying to stay positive but I do find it hard to stay calm and centered when I feel overwhelmed. It’s easier when you leave home, go to university, arrive in new spaces etc but it can feel very oppressive and negative when you return to the spaces and situations where your anxiety started.

For anyone suffering from a similar thing all I can advise is taking deep breaths, try and keep things in perspective and remember that you’re probably being much harder on yourself than other people are being on yourself.

Stay strong, anxiety is part of you but doesn’t define you πŸ™‚ xx