Warning for discussion of my struggles with an eating disorder.
A couple of weeks ago I had to stay overnight in hospital to have an operation on my neck. To put it shortly, I have a slightly “suspicious” thyroid that needed to be taken out to prevent any further risks in the future. It was one of those things I had kind of pushed aside for some time because my mind was already chaotic enough with all my mental issues, let alone all my physical problems too! The week leading up to it was also very hectic as I had my trip to York and then spent the weekend in London at “Summer in the City” (no regrets – was absolutely AMAZING!!!!) meaning I didn’t really give myself any time to process what was happening.
This did cause a sliiight internal meltdown on the way to the hospital, the whole thing becoming too overwhelming and feeling like just another problem I needed to deal with. And although sorting this out has felt like a burden, something that has tired me down and made me feel low, I know this is beneficial for the long run and something I couldn’t procrastinate any longer (even if I had really wanted to!!) I kept trying to postpone the operation with the reason “it’s all too much. I need to prioritise one thing at a time”, or I would just cry and complain that this isn’t fair!! Which does kind of give you some adrenaline and make you feel better for a little bit, but it still doesn’t actually get rid of the problem… shockingly, the thyroid wasn’t just going to be like, “damn… you know what? It isn’t fair at all! Why am I doing this?! I’ll just evaporate, become less suspicious” before dallying off out of my neck…
The operation went fine and I was discharged the next day, proceeding to sleep for a glorious thirteen hours. Having this now over and done with also benefitted my mental health a lot. I tend to forget that the two are related. So when I’m procrastinating getting a physical problem sorted, I’m also feeding into my mental illness. All that time spent procrastinating the operation, without realising, instead of trying to get better and focus on one thing at a time, I was just piling everything on top of one another until it became unbearable. Everything is piled on the same set of scales.
My favourite author Matt Haig wrote about this in his recent book “Notes on a Nervous Planet”, about how we should never make a distinction between mental and physical health. In his book he wrote, “You can’t draw a line between a body and a mind any more than you can draw a line between oceans. They are intertwined. Physical exercise is known to have a positive impact on all kinds of things, from depression to ADHD. And physical illness can have mental effects.” “I feel we need to stop seeing mental and physical health as either/or and more as both/and situation. There is no difference. We are mental. We are physical. We are not split up into unrelated sections.”
Spending time at home recovering has also given me the opportunity to get ready for University!! Just a month to go until I’ll be living independently and starting a new chapter in my life! I got my accommodation offer last week and did a classic IKEA shop in celebration for getting my first choice! I’m feeling excited, nervous, terrified and overwhelmed by the thought of it (which is confusing); I don’t think it’s really hit me that I won’t be living with my family, not waking up everyday to the sound of my sister belting out a musical number as she gets ready for work. I don’t know what to expect, but I feel that the change of scenery will be beneficial for me. I’ll be in a place where I’m not known by my mental illness, not as self conscious about what people are thinking of me or if they’re over analysing my actions. It’ll be like a step into a new sense of freedom.
When I started recovery, I had this belief that I needed to be recovered before University so I could go into it with a healthy mind and active body. I need to be recovered or I can’t go to uni! Sadly that was way too idealistic and getting help has made me understand that I still have a long way to go. When I set that target, I think I was stuck in a belief that with therapy and professional help, they would “cure” me. I didn’t quite grasp the fact that it is predominately down to my own decisions and own strength. Don’t get me wrong, getting professional help has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but they can’t just give me ten sessions and suddenly make me better. I’ve got to follow through with my therapist’s advice, commit to keep going. I’ve got to listen.
So I’m changing my goal. I want to be in a position where I’m continuing to move forward, continuing to strive and stay motivated in getting better. It will be present but not as loud. The truth of the matter is; I will be going to University with an Eating Disorder. I will be going to University struggling with my Mental Health. Recovery is a long process that cannot be achieved in an array of months.
But I will also be going to University with the determination to keep progressing and becoming healthier. I’ll be going with other interests that I want to define me more than my Mental Health does. I don’t want to be how I was less than a year ago, reluctant to get help, letting my body and mind slowly disintegrate, upsetting my family because they knew I wasn’t willing to try and find life outside my illness.
I will keep going. Exciting things await.