Having an eating disorder can make the festive season seem more of a burden than an enjoyment, especially when it seems to revolve so heavily around food. The past 5/6 years I dreaded Christmas, I was either in total avoidance of food or resenting the seasonal challenges I had been set, or had indeed set myself to achieve over the holidays. It seemed everyone was determined to pressure me to eat more than was necessary and I generally became a moody/reclusive bore.
This year however was a different story. I think I knew it would be by my excitement about going home for Christmas (but didn't want to jinx it by saying so before!) This year, I did not restrict my food in the leadup to Christmas to make allowances for extra on the big day- in fact I went to and ENJOYED three Christmas meals wih various work collegues (including the amazing Body Gossip gang) in the week before Chrismas. This year I ate what I wanted, I made decisions based on what I fancied eating, not by what was the 'safest'. (For the record- as much as the eating disordered mind would tell you otherwise there is no such thing as a 'dangerous' food. Not unless you eat that blowfish which can kill you unless you cook it really specifically, but then again I think I heard about that on an episode of the Simpsons so it might be b*llocks anyway.
rare quality time with my Mum, enjoyed the company, and enjoyed- yes ENJOYED the delicious food we'd cooked together.
But perhaps more importantly, until this evening when I was chatting to Nick Watts of MGEDT, I didn't even think about food, at least no more than smelling Mum's homemade mince pies and thinking 'nom.'
Had you told me half a decade ago, or even a year ago that I would be able to enjoy a Christmas (and food) in this way- ie guilt and paranoia free- I would not have believed you. I may have laughed or even resented you for patronising me. Because I did not believe that full recovery from an eating disorder was possible. Why? Because in all the media coverage dedicated to eating disorders it is SO rare to see a story of survival. Of full recovery, of people enjoying an ED free life instead of 'coping' with the eternal niggling voice in the
back of their minds that forever threatens a relapse.
Well I tell you now. Recovery is possible. And if you do anything for yourself this Christmas then I urge you this: believe that recovery, and full recovery, is possible. if we dont believe something is possible then how can we ever expect to achieve it. We don't hear enough about the people who have overcome their demons, eating disorders or otherwise, but hearing these stories, and meeting the incredible people who own them was what gave me the determination and the strength to work my arse off to reach recovery. They showed me it
was possible, and once I saw that I made up my mind that I was not
going to stop until I had it for myself. It may not have been easy and
it didnt happen overnight but the rewards are SO worth it. Both on
days such as yesterday and every day. My days are not defined by
calories or food or OCD behaviours that I adopted to get myself
through difficult meals- they are defined by things I have achieved,
by people I love, and things that matter to me.
Recovery IS possible, and it's about time more people started believing it.
Merry Christmas to you all,