Up until now I have resisted writing much about the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world but it has reached a point that it is impacting on all of us across the globe and impossible to ignore.
I actually feel lucky in many ways to have reached the stage of recovery I have as I know that if this situation were to have happened a year ago, I would not have coped well and it would have triggered the same raised anxieties and eating disorder generated fears in me that I am now witnessing in some of you I know through the eating disorder communities.
To say the least, the world is in a state of an entirely unprecedented situation.
I don’t think there is one nation now not affected by this virus and the way it is impacting on how we have to live for a time.
Anyone without mental health, anxiety or eating disorder illnesses is feeling a heightened state of emotions from the restrictions being put on our movements and freedom that we take for granted. Therefore, for those with pre-existing anxiety disorders or eating disorders, these strange and uncertain times we are in are even more difficult to manage.
With eating disorders we commonly latch onto routines and live in a bubble that feels safe when everything stays the same.
At the moment things are not staying the same and we have little control over that.
The strange times we are in could affect us in a number of ways if we have an eating disorder, but perhaps we CAN control how we react.
As I see it we have three choices right now…
- We let our anxiety rise, we stress about the changes to our weird ED routines and we let the illness take more control over us as a result.
- We find a new messy and disordered routine to maintain until the world returns to normal and we keep the illness in a steady state.
- We use this as an opportunity.
Can I suggest option 3?!?
Right now we have no control over what the world is doing and in responding to the virus outbreak, all we can do is keep ourselves as safe as possible and be responsible citizens by following the advice of our particular nation.
It won’t help anyone at the moment if we get sicker from the eating disorder.
To be resilient to the virus if we do catch it, we need as much physical strength as we can muster!
Therefore focusing on recovery is the most selfless thing we could do at the moment for us and those around us.
I therefore suggest, as many of us are going to find ourselves advised to stay home more than ever, you use the fact that your eating disorder is probably freaking out about that as a chance to face down the illness and the way it is controlling you.
Stay in, create a safe haven bubble world at home, snuggle in and eat. Yes, it will be hard and painful and distressing to go through but know you are safe and this is a chance to really heal.
Perhaps this is the world giving you an opportunity to put your recovery first.
Let some good come from this pandemic.
And if news stories about the virus make you more anxious, switch them off.
If people with high anxiety on social media are impacting on you then turn off social media too.
Create a world that feels safe without the panic.
Use this time.
Take a chance and decide it’s the time to heal.
This pandemic will not last forever and all we can do is ride it out, just like we have to ride the waves of turmoil that come up when recovering from the eating disorder, trusting that we will survive and trusting that we are safe, even if we don’t feel it.
I know this is a really intensely difficult time for so many of you at the moment. Please know though that if you can still focus on recovery, then times like these will be much easier to tolerate in future (and for that you will have to trust me!!).
And while getting through this time, please know I am right here with and for you.