How? How do you get better when the answer is the problem? How is it possible to overcome that anxiety, that fear, that overwhelming daily battle and do so willingly?
This was something I found very little on at the time, I guess because these diseases are quite complex and require specific professional attention but, if you are like me, you’re addicted to extra information and google is your best friend. I am someone who on top of getting professional advice craves reading from others experiences. I wanted to know what worked for others, I wanted to know success stories, not so much so that I could try the various strategies they described but so I could put more faith in what the doctors were telling me to do. I know how important it can be to relate to one another and so I am putting my little two cents worth on the internet for those of you who are like me and want to read anothers story.
Below is my list of the strategies I found to be beneficial. I do stress that you should seek professional help to ensure you develop a strategy that is best suited to you, but I hope you find comfort in reading that the simplest of steps can make a huge difference. The first three strategies were outlined in an earlier blog post titled ‘my first psych appointment’ and if you go back and read that post you will see that at the time I thought they were pathetic ideas but I now stand corrected.
1. Respond to hunger the way you’re meant to
Whenever you feel hunger, give into it immediately. Allow for your brains response to the hunger be what it’s meant to be, to eat, rather than the response you have been adopting, which is not to. It doesn’t have to be much, I put some dried fruit in my blazer pocket at school and as soon as I heard my stomach rumble I would immediately put a piece in my mouth. I found that by beginning with small steps, such as little pieces of dried fruit, I could ease into the response rather than freak out about it.
2. Breathe and use verbal affirmations
Whenever you feel like you’re struggling, sit yourself down and say “I’m ok” just those two words and breathe, “I’m ok”. Even now when things get overwhelming it’s amazing how out of control our breathing can get, making the situation much more difficult to cope with. Stop yourself, and focus on a deep breath in and out, then speak whatever words you need to hear out loud.
3. Embrace your exit buddy
My last post titled, ‘Has everybody got their exit buddy’ talked about this. Find someone who inspires a positive approach to life and has the ability to whip you back on track without even realising they are doing so. When you find them, spend as much time with them as possible or, if that isn’t convenient, keep close contact with them. It may be through phone calls, messages, social media, this person might not even be someone you know personally, perhaps an influencer on social media who inspires you through the power of their videos and images. So long as it’s a positive influence, cling to them.
4. Create visual reminders
I printed off quotes and photos and placed them around my room where people weren’t likely to notice them. One was on the side of my bedside table so that when I rolled over in the morning it was right there beside me. One was on the back of my door so that every time I left the room it was a final reminder. I know it sounds corny, but it really helped. By reading the same thing over and over again soon enough I started thinking those positive thoughts and began living by them.
5. Put pen to paper
I kept a notebook by my bed with a pen so that whenever I was struggling, I could write down what I was thinking. When I pulled the words from my mind and wrote them on paper they lost a lot of their power. It was seeing them in black and white that made them what they are, just words, and in most cases the words when read as just words seemed really silly, instantly stopping me from obsessing on those thoughts for a little while.
6. Talk about it
This one is hard, but it can reap huge rewards. Talking to a professional, a family member, a friend, someone who you trust, is very beneficial. In just the same way as writing it down, when I heard my thoughts spoken out loud they sounded very insignificant and realising this for myself allowed me to begin breaking down the cloudiness that is the disease and encourage some clearer thinking in my approach to food and my body.
7. Acknowledge progress in an empowering way
Celebrate the small and larger victories, symbolise the closing of one chapter and opening of another. This could be in the form of writing things down and burning them, skydiving, going on a retreat type of holiday, find a way that feels right for you. For me, I chose a tattoo. Obviously this was a very permenant choice but if I chose to leave this strategy off of the list I wouldn’t be holding true to the honesty I have promised for this blog. In light of finding significant benefits of putting pen to paper, I decided to tattoo a small image on the inside of my wrist as a reminder. I did this when, now looking back, I was quite close to the end of the recovery journey, so it was also a choice made for two reasons, to signify a personal struggle that I was feeling confident to have nearly overcome but a reminder to try and never fall back into that trap. It was a choice I didn’t make lightly, one I thought about and planned for quite some time before going through with it but, be it coincidence or not, from the day I got it I haven’t taken another step backward.