• clarestephenson11

Three steps forward, one step back

One of the first things I was told when I started my treatment was that it wasn't going to be one smooth journey. It wasn't going to be a straight line up to recovery. I was even told that you may never reach that full point of recovery- that in some ways your eating disorder will always stay with you. It was always going to be a wobbly journey. Up days, down days. Days of wins and losses. Days where I questioned whether my eating disorder was still there, only for it to come flooding back the next.

When you have an eating disorder, you have to remember that they don't just appear. Like illnesses, the longer you go without treatment, the stronger it gets and the harder it becomes to go away. You dont just decide to have an eating disorder one day- in fact it is not even your choice. Eating disorders develop very sneakily over time, convincing you the whole time that you are okay when you aren't. What I am trying to say, it that it took you a LONG time and a lot of hard work to get you to where you are, so it is not going to go away in the space of a few months. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, so they stick around for a while. And one simple action or word can trigger it again.

I have taken three steps forward, and now, I have taken a step back. And thats totally cool. Yeh it sucks, but it is normal. It just clarifies to me that my eating disorder is still there and I have to keep fighting with it. I went to Rome over Christmas and I did so well- pizza, pasta, gelato- I was not letting an eating disorder ruin that experience for me. But when those wheels hit the ground back in England, something clicked. I started to notice old behaviours coming back, small things like picking up a cherry tomato to eat it but panicking and putting it down again. Or carrying out compulsive exercise. Familiar thoughts started to appear in my head again and it freaked me out. So, when I went food shopping with my friends, the voice was so strong that the only thing it allowed me to buy was a bag of apples; to last me the whole week.

So where am I at now? Back to a meal plan. At first, I was disheartened. Because my whole 2019 was spent following a meal plan, measuring out butter and eating every 2 hours. I felt like I had little control in what I was eating. It was a time of my life where I was in a really low place with my disorder and to go back to something that resembles it puts a dark cloud over the progress Ive made. But, at the same time, I knew that was what I needed. I don't know what a normal diet is, I don't know how much I should eat in a day because I have spent the last two years of my life starving. So, when you cry over the fact that your mum is coming food shopping with you, I think that is a sign that you need a plan. You need the support again to get you over this hurdle.

As they say, there is no progress without a struggle. Just because you've taken a step back doesn't mean you're going to be stuck there forever. It just a minor bump in the road that you need the energy to get over- and to get that energy- you need food. So that you can come out on the other side and continue with your life. And even if you do stumble backwards a bit, you will have a clearer view of the path ahead of you and you can see how you are going to move forward on your journey.

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