Sunday, 25 February 2018

It's Eating Disorders Awareness Week (TW - take care please)

Content/Trigger warning: In the second part of the post (underneath the starred line) there is mention of some harmful eating disorder related behaviours. 

This year, Eating Disorders Awareness Week will take place from 26 February to 4 March. The theme is 'Why Wait'. Some of you may remember my blog for last year's EDAW. The theme was around early intervention and I spoke about my experiences with waiting too long for treatment. There isn't much more I can say on the topic that I haven't already said, so please check out last year's post, read the following bit from the Beat website, and then you can read the thing I've chosen to write about instead. 

"This year, during Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we’ll be asking the question ‘Why Wait?’

On average, 149 weeks pass before those experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help. That’s almost three years, 37 months or 1,043 days.

We know the sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full and fast recovery. As well as campaigning to improve the services available, we recognise that we must raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder and encourage and empower people to take action now – no matter how long their symptoms have been present.

So, join us this EDAW to ask: ‘Why Wait?’ "

Me again: I really hope professionals take notice of this campaign and the many people crying out for change. It's important that we don't just tell people to seek help early. As I spoke about last year, I tried to get help when I noticed the early warning signs of my eating disorder reemerging after a brief okay spell and I wasn't taken seriously. I wasn't given the help early on, despite asking several times. I hope times have changed/ are changing.


The Actual Blog Post

Recently, I've been thinking about stuff that I have reclaimed since recovering from anorexia nervosa. 

I'm going to write about two things that, when I was poorly, were damaging to my health and wellbeing. They are now both really important for my self-care and they do not harm or deplete me. 

They nourish me.  

When I started thinking about it, I felt really powerful. It reminded me of how different my life is now. 

1) Baths. I remember using baths as a way to distract myself from eating and from feeling hungry.

Now baths are a crucial part of my self-care routine. If I've had a tough day, or had too much sensory input, nothing resets my system better than turning the lights off and lying in the water. I've come to realise recently how important my 'sensory diet' is. Lights that are too bright, noises that are too loud, smells that are too strong, all drain my energy. This type of environment is, unfortunately, unavoidable but I'm learning what comforts me and what strengthens me. Having a bath feels like I'm properly looking after myself. Doing exactly what serves me, filling my cup back up.

2) Walking. When I was unwell, I would walk a lot and feel very guilty if I didn't.

Now walking is something I do for absolutely all the right reasons. It calms me down when I'm feeling anxious, it boosts my mood when I'm feeling down, and it helps me to be more mindful and reminds me to breathe when I'm stuck in my head. I'm very lucky that I live by a few different parks and green spaces, so I only need to venture a couple of minutes out of my house before I've got that breathing space. I also now have a dog, so on those days where my anxiety makes it difficult to leave the house, he reminds me to go out and take a breather. I made a promise to myself that I would only do exercise that I actually enjoy. No more 'shoulds'. This includes walking, yoga, spinning/dancing in the house and the occasional bike ride.

There are also many things that I have rediscovered (rather than reclaimed) since recovering. Reading is one. Oh the joy of having the concentration to read a book! I might revisit that topic another time.

This was such a nice reflection. It feels important to stop and take stock of how far we've come. Even if it's only small steps. We're all growing constantly and can get to where we want to be if we keep making those steps.

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