I’ve recently been asked to say more about me & why I started this serious recovery attempt now.
Firstly, though – this is my not so happy story but I know we all have sad stories & I’m just sharing this as people have expressed interest.
I do know many of you have had it worse.
But, I digress…
Having had an eating disorder for well over a decade, I have always wanted recovery.
I have been through treatment cycles in those years – inpatient stays, outpatient treatment… I have had recovery coaching & tried self recovery at home.
I made progress of varying degrees with each attempt, but never sufficient, so quasi recovery or full lapses were inevitable.
Throughout those years, when not in treatment, I continued to work & seemingly function well.
Of course though, this life was made miserable by the eating disorder compulsions & restrictive food rules that meant I was otherwise really quite disabled.
I was isolated, cold & if I’d not been so emotionally numb, I’d have been very depressed.
Last year, I was exhausted of this life I was living.
I’d always loved to travel but with the illness had not been on holiday for years… too routine driven & scared.
So, last year I made some big life changes, hoping this might take me towards a happier life, which in itself would help me get well.
I discovered international house-sitting, I gave up my career & I jetted off alone to some amazing places.
In reality, I was probably running away.
I was running as far as I could (I think New Zealand counts!) to try to out run the illness and the reality of how miserable life in the illness truly was.
I had dreams that the eating disorder would leave and I’d be able to enjoy the international cuisine, relax and ‘find myself’.
If only that were the case!
I did enjoy my travels – I was away for the majority of a 6 month period & I saw incredible places and had experiences I valued but I could never enjoy them fully as ED was still there, keeping me hungry, driven and isolated. There were days I would be in a new and incredible location and rather than being happy, I was willing the ground to swallow me whole and remove me from the existence I was in.
In April, my 40th birthday came along.
Birthdays are always hard with an eating disorder… but this landmark year was one that really forced me to stop & reflect…
I was in Berlin (amazing city!) but I was alone & very unhappy.
I knew the eating disorder had been getting even stronger (if that were possible).
I was physically weaker than I have ever been and I was depleted in every way.
My birthday I spent seeing Berlin but with compulsive activity, precious morsels of food and no one to share the day with. I had pushed family away to such an extent that I did not even receive a phone call on this landmark day.
Travelling alone for the months prior to this, it had been weeks since I’d had a meaningful conversation with another person.
It had already been dawning on me that something had to change soon but reaching 40 – having that birthday, made me really take stock.
I knew that if I spent another year in the same way, I would just be more miserable, more alone, more desperate & to be honest I didn’t feel safe.
It was time now to take getting really well seriously.
It was that or at best spending the rest of my life in this half-living, mostly existing state.
Reflecting, I realised that the illness had stolen many precious years from me & opportunities I may never get back but if I really beat it now -not settling for less than full recovery this time…then I could yet have another 10, 20, 30 years of healthy, eating disorder free life ahead.
And, digging deep, I had to finally admit that as much as I wanted to be able to travel & go through recovery at the same time, it wasn’t realistic.
To do EVERYTHING that full recovery takes, to put myself through the painful process, I needed support.
I hated the thought of returning to the UK & moving in with my parents BUT I knew I needed people & support to eat enough & to not compensate day after day.
I knew life had to temporarily stop so that I didn’t.
I returned in May 2019 & focused on recovery.
It has been messy and SO hard and there is still a long way to go.
In previous recovery attempts I have used slower approaches and they never produced results with good outcomes for me, so I’m going faster this time… And faster because I am 40 and I want to get as much as I can from what life I have left, not giving any more to the eating disorder!
4 replies on “More About Me!”
[…] about my background and what led me to start this full on recovery attempt a few months ago (Read More About Me! if you have […]
[…] At the start of my recovery I was coming from years of severe restrictive anorexia nervosa (AN) with significant exercise and movement compulsions. I had been through various treatment cycles, both as an inpatient and out patient and I had had recovery coaching. Any progress I made with these was never lasting (see More About Me!). […]
Hi Helen, just read a little bit more about you and am so glad I did. Lots of parallels somehow. 40 sounded the death knell for my ED too. I wish I had known of you last April; I would have invited you to spend your birthday here in Berlin with us. Or at least raise a glass to recovery. Look forward to reading more of your blog as and when time allows. Thanks for your helpful thoughts and I hope things are going well for you!! Hattie 🙂 (compassionate_recovery)
Thank you for your message and taking the time to read my blog post. 40 was definitely a wake up call but you know, I reckon 41 will be a fantastic year!
When I return to Berlin, which I will because even though I was not well when I was there a year ago, I still absolutely loved the city… we will have that drink and drink to recovered lives and a strong future each xxx