Warning for discussion of my struggles with an eating disorder.
So, we’ve finally entered 2020! A new year, a new freakin’ decade, and a bunch of new experiences ready to be lived! As I did last year, I wanted to reflect back on 2019 and what I’ve learned, before delving right in with what I want to bring into this wonderful new year! I know I may be a tad late as we’re already 26 days in… but hey, at least it’s still January (unless I accidentally forget about this post for a couple of months…)!!
So, what have I learned from one of the most amazing, but also most challenging years of my life? Let’s start with basically what I always talk about… my eating disorder (yay!)! I started 2019 with a very optimistic outlook on how I was going to continue through recovery and keep my mind set on my other values and priorities that define me more than my mental illness ever will. Amazingly, this year I have challenged my illness A LOT. From exploring incredible and tasty foods on holiday, to simply just cooking new and different meals in my Uni kitchen, I have really tried my best to keep my mind set on taking care of my mind and body. This has caused me to develop a substantial daily food intake, something I have not had for over three years. I am so proud of the progress I have made in 2019, and grateful for the wonderful support I have received along the way. Looking back at the girl I was in college is strange. It’s strange to think about how majorly focused I was on food and limiting the nutrients my body needed. It’s strange to think about the lies and arguments I would have with my family when it came to tea time, and how much I felt on my own. Of course, this disordered mind is not completely gone. In 2019, I have had many days where my eating disorder has been prominently in my mind, where I have felt disgusting and guilty for eating more than I used to. I still have days where I get so stressed when we go out for food that I could just start sobbing on the spot…
But there are so many more days where I add those extra little things into my diet that my eating disorder was so angrily against. Where I will sit down for tea with my family and let my Mum cook me the same meal as everyone else. Where I will order take outs last minute despite what I have eaten earlier in the day. Where I will make more spontaneous decisions and constantly try not to justify what I am eating. It’s amazing how much I have freed myself and as I say a lot, getting help was the best decision I have ever made. So, I am bringing those days into 2020 with me, to remind me on the bad days that it doesn’t always feel this way. I am bringing my motivation and determination to continue recovery, even when it feels so difficult. Because I know that I can do it and that I am not on my own. When your brain is so ill that disordered thoughts are all you can comprehend, it blocks out that rational side of your mind that is telling you that you’re not on your own. It covers up all the amazing aspects of your life that are right in front of you. But that’s the thing about mental illnesses, it doesn’t matter about all the wonderful things you have around you, once your illness start to fester in your brain, it blocks everything else out. I like to think that recovery is about rediscovering all of those happy things again.
Okay, besides the heavy topic of mental illness and recovery, what else am I pulling into the new decade with me? Well… I GOT SOME TAP SHOES FOR CHRISTMAS (wooo)!! I started learning tap dancing earlier in September at University and have been LOVING IT ever since! So I’ve been dancing my way into 2020 with a couple of shuffle ball-changes! It’s been fun having something to do at Uni that isn’t just my degree, and to try something new and fun! This leads me on to what I am next bringing into 2020… a goal to try new things and explore new opportunities! There’s so many societies at Uni and I want to step outside my comfort zone and see if there is anything new I would enjoy! On top of this, as it is probably quite obvious by now (I mean, I have a whole tab dedicated to it), I absolutely ADORE travelling! So, I am hoping to explore new countries this year and see as much as I can (and especially try all the foods!!). My boyfriend and I have already booked a trip to Austria for my 21st birthday (!!!), and I’m hoping in the Summer to get a few more trips lined up! Although sometimes the thought of going to new countries with food I am uncertain about and having no routine is a bit daunting, but the incredible experience and feeling of awe and excitement of exploring is always worth it. It reminds me that recovery is worth it.
FINALLY, to top off this goal of new things, I am aiming to get a tattoo this year! My grandparents will be SO proud…
But, I think the main thing I am bringing into 2020 is to just keep doing the best I can. I am proud of myself for what I have overcome and will keep remembering that I am not alone, the sadness and distress I feel at times is only temporary, and as cliche but as true as it is, things so get better. God, they really do.