I am going to begin honestly, because honesty is what I have always strived to do on this blog. Honesty – apart from food – is the main weapon in this fight.
Things haven’t gone quite so well recently. At the end of term, I was referred back to the Eating Disorder Services. This is not much fun and not something I am proud of, or looking forward to. I have no idea what the referral will lead to – at this point I am unsure whether they will even want to see me as NHS funding is so stretched and limited. I am completely sure that I do not want to return to a world of services. There comes a point where you value your Monday afternoons being free.
Having said that, obviously my part of the bargain hasn’t been kept. It’s clear to see that, if I want my free Monday afternoons, I have to work for them. My primary school headmaster used to call warnings a ‘shot across the bows’ and I am hoping that – this time – I can limit my contact with services to just that. I am also trying to be kind to myself throughout all of this in that I know that recovery is not a straight line, however preferable that would be.
At the time of writing, I am on a flight back from the Dodecanese islands, where I have been fortunate enough to spend a sun soaked week in the shade (you know…). As usual, I promised myself a week free from anorexia. Usually, I would reach day three and give up, feeling the imaginary tightness of my swimming costume. This time, I have been bloody minded in that I kept eating and I kept wearing swimwear.
Actually, it was rather nice to keep at the eating. I tried okra, king prawns, swordfish, a crepe with feta cheese and a waffle with Nutella, strawberries and honey.
I tasted wine at a vineyard and had honey on everything. I visited the place where honey is produced and tried different types. I’m irritatingly proud that I can now inform people of my honey preference: I like honey from blossoms, I do not like honey from firs.
I know this because I allowed myself to stop and taste: so often I eat my food as quickly as I can because it is something I have to do. This week, I slowed down and gave myself time to taste what I was eating. Honey from blossoms is sweeter and less dense than honey from firs. I am glad that I know that.
All this, I suppose, has been a long way round of saying that you can do this. Whatever it is that is troubling you, you can hold your own hand; give yourself a tiny (or large) shove in the right direction. It’s often easy to say that you’re too far gone or not ready or that there is some other reason that you’re not capable of taking the plunge. For me, having been inpatient before gives me the ready made excuse that I can only do it in hospital. This is rubbish. That was then; this is now. I am human. I am stubborn. I didn’t know if I could do it, but I could and I did. If I hadn’t taken the leap, I wouldn’t have known the answer.
Anorexia, of course, will tell you that you’re different; special. It will tell you that you would prefer to look like a paper bag stretched over sticks than choose between a Gin Fizz and a Singapore Sling as the sun sets over the sea. It will whisper lies to you about other people; about the rest of your life. It will seal you in a coffin long before it gives you a chance to fall in love with somewhere that isn’t your bedroom.
But, you know what, it’s a choice. It really is a choice. If you choose to keep anorexia, that’s your decision. If you want to move on, move away, find out whether you prefer honey from firs or honey from blossoms, that’s a choice too.
But you’ve got to take start walking.
You won’t regret it.