I’ve been a bit ranty about the ‘clean eating’ thing recently because it bothers me a LOT. Dieting isn’t good for anyone. Especially not someone with a history of an eating disorder. It is generally accepted that any form of dietary restriction increases the risk of developing an eating disorder in vulnerable individuals, and once recovered, strict […]
In recent times, it seems that what we eat has gradually become synonymous with morality. The Hemsley sisters and Deliciously Ella cheerfully sell us the idea that if we cut out this or that, we too can be glowing, smooth skinned and full of peace. To ‘eat clean’ has become synonymous with self care, in spite of the heavy marketing (which should make anyone sceptical) and lack of science.
Because people do, don’t they. Even those who know us well and would call themselves friends or colleagues. Or maybe it’s just me.
Part of the challenge is that I have been MUCH more open about my eating disorder recently. For years, no one in my wider life, including work, had any idea. If I weren’t trying to change things, I could have continued this indefinitely. But keeping things private at work wasn’t an option if I wanted time off for therapy. So far, my manager has been supportive. The work friends I’ve been open with continue to express confidence in my ability. I suspect I’m fortunate. It’s no secret that mental health services haven’t always been great at looking after their own. Continue reading
If you’re recovering from an eating disorder and are underweight, you really can’t get away from the fact that weight gain is an inevitable part of the process. It’s definitely the most ‘visible’ part, and often the element that people focus on most. At the same time, we often hear that it’s really not about the weight. It’s true that weight gain alone definitely won’t fix everything, although it may shift some of the rigidity that is secondary to ‘starvation’. But the uncomfortable truth is that for me at least, gaining weight may make some things worse, before they improve. This may not be the case for everyone, and I’m definitely not saying it isn’t worth it.
I’m feeling fairly determined at the moment. It’s unexpected, considering how I wanted to sink into the ground after therapy this morning. Part of the problem is that professionally, I know the answers, certainly in relation to managing anxiety. But I can’t always apply this to myself, and it sometimes gets in the way of my ability to challenge ‘food rules’ as much as I need to.
So this is an attempt to capture some of this unexpected perspective, as a way to (hopefully) refocus and provide an outside perspective when ‘eating disordered’ thoughts feel consuming and all too reasonable.
After an unexpectedly heated response from someone on Instagram today, I felt the need to get my thoughts out. So, this is ranty. I’m not really sorry for that. I think this is a subject which merits frustration.
I simply do not understand why people who have recovered from a restrictive eating disorder need to post images of themselves at their very lowest weight on social media. Or share them with journalists. For a start, doing this contravenes the Beat media guidelines. We can’t really get angry when the media refuse to follow these, and then make the same mistake ourselves.
Also, recovery from any eating disorder involves a fundamental shift away from the focus on food, weight and the body. If you still place a huge emphasis upon physical appearance as a means of evaluating your self worth, I question how free you really are. The lines between ‘fitspo’ and ‘thinspo’ are extremely blurred. I am NOT saying, don’t be healthy, don’t work to improve your fitness, don’t care about your body. But there has to be some movement away from over-emphasis, towards balance. Or maybe that’s just my personal definition of things. Recovery is different for everyone, I get that it isn’t black and white.
I don’t know many other people with eating disorders in ‘real life’. But social media being what it is, I sometimes come across others, often in the early stages, usually, but not always in their late teens or early twenties, sometimes in that all too familiar cycle of partial recovery and relapse. I want to scream a warning, beg you not to let it drag on if you can possibly help it, not to make the mistakes I did. So from someone who has been stuck longer than I’d like, here are some thoughts.
Opening up, reducing the amount of compartmentalising we do, it’s massive in eating disorder recovery.
My husband came to my therapy session this week. This is HUGE. A friend commented that the degree of anxiety it caused me is quite telling. What is so difficult about having my husband, who I share the entirety of my life with, sitting in the same room as my therapist and talking about my eating disorder. I don’t know. It is just not something I have EVER done. I have always tried to manage things myself. It’s my issue, after all.
For a long time I’ve had a habit of keeping things separate, without even really realising it. Especially, but not solely, when it comes to eating and weight. I recognise this is about protecting myself, but it is also about protecting others from things I feel they are either unable to, or shouldn’t have to, cope with. Sometimes, sharing seems unnecessary, not because I want to hold things back (though sometimes I do) but because it feels like the most responsible option. I have also worked very hard over the years to function and keep going, and I definitely do not see myself as a ‘patient’ or someone who is very ‘unwell’. I don’t want other people to view me as that – or certainly not as only that either. Continue reading
So recently I’ve been having a few of those days where I feel a bit rubbish, a failure, and intensely irritated with myself. I’m anxious and jittery, keeping busy to avoid my thoughts (because we all know that works really well!) I suspect if I didn’t have the training I have, I might see things differently. I know at least some of the answers. I know […]