Warning for discussion of my struggles with an eating disorder.
Christmas is always a tough time when you struggle with an eating disorder. Last year I wrote a post about my wish for 2017 Christmas, coming from a place where I was struggling the most. I remember waking up last Christmas with a sinking feeling in my gut about how I was going to manage to keep within my “calorie limit” and also enjoy the festivities. My family and I go for a walk every Christmas and I clung onto that as a justification for eating what I did. I still felt awful after every snack and meal, desperately wanting to go and do more exercise or distract myself from eating anymore. But when food is constantly on your mind, and chocolate and treats are all around you, distraction is difficult. My mum did a buffet style Christmas lunch for us to make it easier for me, and I still struggled to eat a lot. I remember feeling like I had ruined Christmas; my mum has done this buffet to accommodate for me! Why am I still being so picky and nervous?! Why can’t I just enjoy Christmas?!
Sadly, eating disorders don’t take holiday breaks.
This Christmas has been a million times better. I’ve come a long way this year in regards to recovery, finding myself progressing in my portion sizes and controlling my mentality after I eat. Spending this year learning to feel comfortable with being full has allowed me to enjoy delicious tastes and meals this holiday. I baked gingerbread people with my boyfriend (I swear they tasted better than they look), enjoyed hot chocolates at markets and pancakes too!; I have even been for three Christmas roasts! It’s made recovery worth it. I’m finally managing to eat treats and not always feel distressed afterwards! I’m understanding that it’s okay to eat substantial meals and all the food groups diet and ED culture scared me away from. I need them to live.
On Christmas Day, I was actually able to join in with a proper Christmas lunch and eat lots of chocolate and treats afterwards! When comparing this holiday with the previous year’s, I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.
I still felt the guilt and shame, especially in the evening when I was snacking on sweets and chocolate. The walk still didn’t feel like enough and there was a point where I needed to take time for myself to have a break from my mind. Even in recovery, I still find times where my eating disorder creeps back in, attempting to manipulate and persuade me that I’m failing and don’t deserve to get better. Even in the cheeriest moments, mental illnesses can try and take control. I started feeling really overwhelmed yet drained too (polar opposite intensities), suddenly just counting down the hours until the day was over.
Despite the joyful and happy connotations surrounding the holidays, for many people, Christmas can be a very distressing and tough time. There’s no shame in struggling, even on days where you are reminded of joy and cheeriness and positivity!!! There’s no correct way to celebrate Christmas, and you’re not a burden or a “buzz kill” if you’re finding the holidays rough. You’re not alone.