Warning for discussion of my struggles with an eating disorder.
It’s that time of the year again! The time we’re encouraged to take part in funny family traditions, sing festive songs, and get distressed at substantial meals and tasty treats (actually maybe that’s just most days for me?)… CHRISTMAS!! I have written posts for the past couple of years about now stressful the holidays can be for someone struggling with an eating disorder, and how I have felt each year about tackling my festive fear foods and going outside of my comfort zone: so of course, I knew I had to do it again!
This year as a whole has been a big year for me in regards to progress. I’ve managed to establish a (fairly) healthy and substantial relationship with food, and focused on ways I can control the distressing feelings I may experience when I am faced with food my eating disorder does not like. It has been tough, and I have had many days where I have questioned if it is worth it, but as I slowly build up the trusting relationship with family members, find myself having more energy to get stuff done and have some fun (wooo that rhymed!) AND see myself exploring different countries and tasting what they have to offer, I can truly see how much healthier and happier I am. I find myself at the end of the decade in a somewhat okay, sliiightly exhausted from my degree, but stable state (mostly anyway… we all have our bad days).
So this Christmas has almost been perfect. I say almost because as most of us know, a mental illnesses never fully goes away and I do still struggle. But as far as the day itself went, it couldn’t have been more lovely. I spent Christmas this year with my Mum and Sister and as we ate our Christmas dinner; a soup starter and then beef (well, quorn for me) bourguignon with potatoes, mash, cauliflower cheese, veg, and a lovely slather of gravy, I realised how little attention my Mum and Sister were paying to me. A couple of years ago I could sense the nervous eyes as they could tell I was close to a breakdown, stressed and guilty to even be looking at all the food on my plate. It was heartbreaking to see the nervousness and sadness in their eyes as I knew how much pain I was causing them (and myself). The (one of many) problems with have a bad brain, is no matter how much distress the illness causes you, it never feels as awful as the distress you realise it’s causing the people closest to you. I remember feeling so awful that I just wanted the day to be over.
So this year I had no nervous eyes, no nervous anything actually as I ate all the amazing foods brought to me without a second thought. I focused on all my values, reminded myself how this one day will make no effect to my body, and kept popping my hand back in to that Quality Street tub (the best selection tub; no one can change my mind). It felt amazing to realise that I didn’t care about the nutritional content of anything that day. I knew that I wasn’t alone in eating as much as I liked and knew that this is what Christmas is all about (okay, BESIDES the birth of Christ)! It made me so happy to realise that all my progress in recovery has been so worth it. I felt so joyful and it was worth it alone to see the normality and lack of stress in our day.
So, here’s to an actual positive Christmas post this year! As cliche as it sounds, it really shows that recovery is worth it; reaching out for help was the best decision I have ever made in my life. And this wonderful Christmas of 2019 truly showed me that.