Friday 3 February
Pepetoe has rapidly become a site that advocates heavily for eating disorder awareness and recovery. On top of that, it has become my personal journal to vent out my feelings on this topic as well as many others. Through this, I hope that my own experiences and struggles with things such as anorexia recovery help others out there who are dealing with similar battles.
I have been in recovery for over 18 months, but I only started active recovery at the end of April last year. Since then, it has been a wild ride. When I came back to Uni in September, I promised myself I wouldn’t slip back into old habits, because they were familiar to be when I was alone and not under the family roof with eyes watching me. And it was going well.
I gained weight from then – birth control definitely helped with that. For the first time in my life, I began to adopt the “student life” – slower days, hangovers, “student food”. I allowed myself to become the 19-year-old version that most people become, and I truly enjoyed it.
Now that I have gained weight and achieved a better (yet nowhere near perfect) relationship with food and my body, I can’t help but feel stuck. I’m in the mindset that now I can lose weight again, because I can do it in a “healthy way” but I have to shut these thoughts down immediately – because there is no healthy way in my mind. And why would I want to lose the weight that makes me who I am today? The happy, smiley, bubbly, most Ellie version I can be. I don’t want that to go away.
I have been looking at old pictures of me from my dark days and want to cry out of love I have for that girl I used to be. She was hurting, in denial, and didn’t know what to do – so she turned to food and exercise as a way to control what little was left in her life that she could control. Of course, it didn’t go very well. But I do not regret the path I took. Because without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be here writing to you about this. Heck, Pepetoe may not even exist. I only have love and forgiveness for my younger self, and this is the most crucial thing I have learnt in this whole recovery period.
So, why am I now turning to weight loss as a solution to my current pain and struggles? There is a simple answer: this was what I used to do when I faced discomfort and anxiety. It’s what my mind is used to. “When faced with discomfort, we turn to controlling the only thing we can: food and exercise.” No, I no longer think like that. I am finding my strength in challenging and pushing away those destructive, intrusive thoughts. They have no place in me anymore.
Has anyone else felt this feeling of being “stuck” when at this later stage of recovery? I don’t know if I should still be challenging my ED, eating when I don’t feel hungry but know I need the fuel, or go back to a pattern of eating less because that’s what I want to do. I know that I need to keep pushing, because this is what my ED wants to do: control me. So, that’s exactly what I am going to do, just keep swimming.
I was listening to a podcast by For you From Eve, one of my go-tos for my mindfulness morning walks. She said this: life is like waves, we rise and we fall and sometimes crash into rocks along the way. It’s a cycle, like anything in life, and life is full of ups and downs, crests and troughs, much like waves. We are connected to nature in a way that the human race still does not understand. We must push past these discomforting feelings and periods in our life with knowing that it will get better. Because, I have found out during the first 6 months of recovery, life does indeed get better. Now things have come crashing down again, and that’s alright, as long as I recognise it and seek help from others and look deeper into myself to understand what it is I am feeling and why.
A message I will leave you on: don’t fall back into past habits just because they are familiar and the only things you think you know. As I said, I used to turn to my eating disorder for comfort and safety when everything else in the world was all topsy-turvy. Now, I turn to my mindfulness practises and remembering that I am strong and can no longer turn back to my old habits just because they are familiar. They no longer serve me, and they no longer serve you.
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