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Eat your damn food!

on February 24, 2013

So I have been back for two weeks now and it has flown by. Back into the swing of London life where everything and everyone moves at 100mph. I am keeping myself grounded and in the slow lane. I used to rush around like it was my last day on the planet, but I am managing to go slow and take my time. I am now in a day programme – I have been going everyday since I got back, and to be honest I am struggling with the difference in approach. Us Brits have a lot to learn from the yanks in the world of eating disorders. At my treatment centre in America I found inspiration all around. Whether it was from the beautiful scenery that surrounded me, the recovered therapists or the kicks up the backsides I used to get – I was always doing something that was progressing me in my journey towards recovery.

Here I feel stuck in a world of analysis. I have 4 x 4 and half hr sessions everyday and quite frankly it is exhausting. I don’t even know what we talk about half the time! The programme is based heavily on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which is frustrating at times. In my 12 years of anorexia, I tried every type of treatment model going. I dabbled in the 12 steps looking for the magic wand that would make me better. I never found it to be of any real sustained use to me. Alcohol and drugs are quite different to an eating disorder. For one – I can’t abstain from eating like you can from alcohol and drugs. I have to eat to live. I tried going to Overeaters anonymous and Anorexics and Bullmics anonymous, but I found that I was replacing one set of rules with another. I got sick and tired of hearing people abstaining from white flour and sugar. Hearing that as anorexic who cut out everything other than fruit or veg was not remotely helpful. I can gladly say that today I eat everything. I love a good chocolate bar or packet of crisps – who doesn’t?! Being at this treatment place has made me realise just what little knowledge there is here in this country for eating disorders. How can it be right to apply the 12 steps to an eating disorder where you introduce yourself as anorexic. I refuse to do this… I like to say I am in recovery from anorexia. To say that I am anorexic means that I am nothing other than my disorder which is so far from the truth. I am so much more. I was also tired of hearing people say that they could never fully recover – the message delivered was that you could be ‘in recovery’, but would always live with it sitting on your shoulder. I don’t believe this to be true. I was surrounded by fully recovered people in America – I know it to be different. In America they aim for the long-term goal of being fully recovered. The use of the terms “recovery” and “recovering” are ambiguous. Someone could use either of these terms and be abstinent from all eating disorder behaviors, but another person might say she is in recovery or recovering yet still be underweight, restricting calories or even still binging and purging. For me I want the gold medal – the bronze and silver are not good enough. I am aiming for a life fully recovered, where I am not tempted into relapsing back into the illness.

I met a girl today who has been following my blog since I began writing it. Meeting her and sharing my experience really made me realise how far I have come. I am now in a position to help others – never did I think that would be the case for me. It was so nice to sit and chat and share my story and all that I learnt from my time in America. It has only been since I returned that I have realised just how much I internalised. I found myself quoting the therapists and the nuggets of gold that I was taught; “Do the harder thing, do what makes you feel uncomfortable, practice truth without judgement and don’t be attached to the results.” As long as I hold onto all that I learnt I can’t fail. I have seen it work with my own eyes, so what should be different for me – I am not special and indifferent. We talked about how our eating disorders were an avenue for punishment. It was so refreshing for me to be able to say that I no longer believe that I need to punish myself. I care about myself today. To say this is massive for me. My eating disorder was all about hurting myself and making amends to Michael my step-dad. I believed it would get me attention from my dad and those around me, when in reality it just pushed people away. I was asked today what motivates me and the answer is simple; relationships. I want to have meaningful relationships in my life and they are only possible if I am in recovery. There is little time for anyone else when I am starving myself. As we chatted, I recognised her fragility – the same vulnerability I used to have. It made me sad to think of her hurting herself. Seeing someone visibly thinner than me used to trigger my head into all sorts of dark places, but today it didn’t. Whilst I struggle to adjust to my new body, I never want to go back to how I was. It is a dark dark place full of hopelessness and misery. I will be thinking of my new friend this week as she continues to challenge her eating disorder. You will be in my thoughts.

Apart from the day programme I have been enjoying catching up with friends and family. It is so nice to feel more alive – more grateful for life. I have engaged in many more activities that involve food. Tonight I am going for dinner at a friends. She sent me a message to say that her mum was going to cook a risotto. She asked me if that was OK and if I would mind eating with her family. Whilst it was really kind of her to ask, it made me realise just how rigid I was in my eating disorder. People used to check with me if I was OK to eat something, because I was so controlling around it. I also hated eating with others, now I love eating in company. Food is a social forum and is a gift to share. I replied “risotto sounds yum, yes please!”

This week I will do my utmost to continue to challenge myself in my recovery and to look for the similarities not the differences in treatment. I knew coming back and adjusting to a different approach would be difficult, but I must start the week with a positive step and do as my therapist in America says, “Eat your damn food!”

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” Buddha

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7 responses to “Eat your damn food!

  1. Sandra White says:

    Wow! You have come such a long way. Congratulations! Love and huge hugs,
    Sandra xx

  2. Muriel says:

    Well done Laura. Just loved reading your blog. The real Laura has arrived back home.. Now is the time for you to enjoy life to the full. I am sure you will be an inspiration to all other sufferers you meet. Keep up the good work. Love Muriel x

  3. edresolution says:

    so glad to see you writing again laura! And I feel so lucky to be supported by you and grateful for what you have given me. I have written a post about our meeting too, and am feeling so hopeful right now because I can see that there is a pay-off for battling this illness and I can get the life I want again! Big hugs!! x x x x

  4. Lindsey says:

    This makes me happy =)

  5. Claire Daly says:

    Hi Laura. Glad you’re home and facing your challenges with such a positive outlook. It won’t be easy – but it will be worth it! love Claire.xxx

  6. David says:

    I’ve been following your story since I heard you talking with Jeremy Vine. Whilst I have not suffered with anorexia myself I can see how easy it is for someone to fall under its control and reading your words every few weeks has reminded me to keep focused on what is actually important in life and not to allow the rest to take control. It has been a privilege to share your journey, and I look forward to the day when you can say you are now recovered from anorexia.

    • Sarah says:

      As you have followed this story longer than I, would you happen to know the name of the clinic that Laura stayed at as, being a sufferer myself, thought I may look into treatment for myself. I have tried so many other things and this seems like a step forward.

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