Dear my previous self – getting personal
– Ruth Beacon
The post you are about to read is a little different from the rest. This is a letter that I wish I would of read at the beginning of my recovery. It is written to my former self, not knowing where or what was happening. These are things that I now know and have learnt.
This is for all those in recovery- inpatient, outpatient, discharged from adult eating disorder specialist, those freshly diagnosed with an eating disorder; at university or home.
Dear my previous self,
You may feel completely lost, confused and lifeless. That is the reality of an eating disorder. It isn’t a glamorous illness. I know you are cold (from the bone), constantly hungry, and lonely.
I want you to know that the pain you cannot describe does fade. The bigger your life gets, the smaller anorexia becomes.
There are a few things that I want to tell you, remember:
- Recovery is worth it: Every tear, mouthful and psychology session is going to be worth it. Once you experience life again you will realise that there is more to life than anorexia. Having the freedom to think beyond rituals and rules feels liberating, living a ‘normal’ life seems in reach.
- You are amazing just the way you are: Think about all those people that love you; send you encouraging texts, messages and cards. They love you for your personality and all your quirky bits. Inner beauty shines out.
- Scared? Nervous? Fearful? That is ok: These feelings are natural and are to be expected. Change is scary! Change means facing your fears, talking about feelings that you want to hide and gaining weight. Recovery is worth it! as who wants to fear food?
- Listen to medical professionals and those around you: Medical professionals have had years and years of training, they know what they are talking about. LISTEN and TRUST them. You are not the first anorexic they have seen and the medical professionals have watched people recover and live their lives. Family and friends only want to see you get the help you need, so take on board their advice. Ultimately, it is up to you.
- You can live without anorexia: Anorexia holds you back, lies, manipulates you, stops you living your life and it dominates completely. You probably think you cannot live without it, but you can, there are coping mechanisms that really really help. It’s power over you diminishes and you become more in control of the eating disorder (and not the other way around).
- You are not alone: I know you feel alone and the only person there has ever been to suffer with an eating disorder. However, there are lots and lots of people who suffer with eating disorders, you are not isolated in this (side note: I have made lots of new friends from being an inpatient and there is a bond because we have all been through the same thing and kept each other strong).
- This experience is not wasted: You may not believe this now but you will be grateful for all you have been through. It has made you realise what is important in life and you can empathise with people who are going through similar situations. You may be the one giving advice in the future!
- Hope: There is a light at the end of the tunnel, life becomes brighter again. You realise there is hope. People teach you this and you realise this for yourself. Hope is what drives you to keep going. It is a beautiful feeling.
- You are strong: Only one person has got you through this and that is YOU. You are the one who has worked so incredibly hard, you deserve happiness and you are STRONG.
Love, Ruth x
This blog was written for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. You can find other inspirational stories of recovery on the Student Minds website, as well as information about where to get support if you are experiencing an eating disorder at university.