I have recently made a really tough decision – perhaps idiotic, perhaps wise, maybe brave, possibly cowardly…. whatever it is, it was very very hard to make and then to put the necessary wheels into motion.
And I want to share my current decision and situation, to be real and to show that recovery is not easy at any stage of the journey and that I am not perfect.
For any of you who have followed me a while or read my blog, you will know that I started my eating disorder recovery journey in the middle of last year from a point in which I was depleted in every sense (see more about me).
It has been a hard, emotional and distressing journey to get as far as I have… and that is to a point in recovery I was proud to reach.
It is a point in recovery I have never reached before, not in any professional treatment settings, with a coach or with other self directed approaches I have tried over my years of illness.
Physically and mentally I hit a point in recovery that was so much better and life doors opened up at the end of last year in ways that they had not for so long.
Having been off work to focus on recovery in those early stages, I returned to the world of work in October, excited to proceed forward and keep rebuilding my life and future.
However, although I was a lot further into recovery than I have ever been in the past, I was still not FULLY recovered (any full recovery takes a lot more than a few months!). There were still thought patterns, little behaviours, fears and difficulties that I still had to overcome and as I reflected upon two months ago, I had further yet to travel before I was entirely free of an eating disorder in my life.
I knew that I still had to keep going with more weight gain, breaking remaining fears, overcoming the most ingrained thought processes and behaviours (no matter how small) to allow me to fully rewire my brain and find mental and life freedom. And I knew it was not going to be at all easy to manage to do all those things. It was an incredibly hard and complicated process to get myself as far as I had in recovery terms and I knew continuing on further would be no less difficult.
However, as I returned to work, I wanted to continue my climb into recovery alongside living a more ‘normal’ life now, able to function better and manage much more.
And I really do like my job, the work I do and my colleagues and I know I am also good at what I do. The work is not overly stressful and having a role, purpose and interest outside the world of eating disorders was also a release and felt a positive step forward.
Over the past couple of months, however, as I endeavoured to push myself much harder and further forward into my recovery, I have started to feel like I have been fighting against a tsunami and only getting so far.
On days I am working, I can do so much in terms of fighting against the illness, but when work takes over, I am struggling to make meaningful changes in a way I know I have to to get to a full recovery… Then my days off become more of an intensive fight to push ahead before the distractions of work start up again.
My work is also perhaps not the most amenable to eating disorder recovery. It is not an entirely sedentary job and when the work is busy, breaks and times to eat are very much hit and miss. I am also experiencing much more exhaustion at present than I have before (either during the illness or in recovery) and as my body heals, I am finding that it is crying out for me to rest and allow those full repairs to happen.
So, although my job has not dragged me backwards, it is also not allowing me to do all I want, need and set out to in my earlier pledge and post on how I desperately wanted to move ahead to a full recovery.
After a few weeks of feeling more anxious and low in mood, with inner turmoil and confusion, I was able to finally identify that the issue that has been troubling me the most is that I was not admitting to myself that I am not moving forward in meaningful recovery terms as things in my life currently stand, despite ongoing efforts and motivation to do so.
I hate living a half life… but I am not fully recovered yet and perhaps this last part of the recovery journey in which I am going to have to fully let go of the illness enough to gain significantly more weight from a point that is already deemed ‘healthy’ to the outside world and to fully focus on the distressing aspects of continuing to face fears, is no less intensive or difficult as those early complicated weeks and months were.
It has taken a lot of inner processing, a plummeting mood and painful reality checks but I have had to recognise that to get to full recovery, I need to make a few more life adaptations in the short term to allow the hard work of recovery to proceed at more than a snails pace…. Because in not doing so, life is unlikely to change significantly and I don’t now feel I have time on my side. I want recovery now, not to drag it out for another year, let alone more!
Over these years of illness, I have had to learn that overcoming the eating disorder can be a game of trial and error but if something in life hinders recovery, making it harder or causing lapses then those aspects of life need to change wherever they can.
Therefore, I have made the hard and complicated decision to stop working at my current job to refocus my priorities back on recovery… And ultimately to find gainful means of employment in a capacity that is amenable to getting and staying completely well.
Coming to this decision led to inevitable emotions and difficult thoughts – feeling a failure and that I was letting people down, worrying about what people would think or say about me, fears over my future and how I would build it all back up again.
But then I also know that if I continue as I am I risk going back slowly into the grips of the illness and that would be to fail more than anything else and that would ultimately let more people down who matter the most in my life.
In the past I have had to not let my own head or my fears over other’s judgement affect my decisions in my recovery and that ‘f**k it’ mindset is one I must hold onto.
I know me and I know my recovery and what that will take. Trusting that has got me this far, so I must continue to trust my inner wisdom and it does not matter what anyone else says or thinks…
So, here I am, facing another step into recovery….
Uncertain if the decision I have made is right or wrong, wise or unwise but going ahead and doing all I can to keep this recovery on track. Recovery has to keep coming first until it is completely done with, so that everything else does not need to come second for very much longer.
My plan from here then is simple…
I will recommit to the goals I set out a few weeks ago and put 100% of my focus back into eating as much as possible, resting and aiming for overshoot, allowing the brain to fully rewire and my body to fully heal, because that is where I know my recovery will lie. And while I do so, I intend to also endeavour onto new career pursuits, probably undertaking some further training, to ultimately find future work in a role that I know will be very close to my true heart and passions, whilst also being conducive to full and lasting recovery.