How to survive Christmas

Christmas should be a happy time spent with family and friends, but for the past 6 years I’ve spent the entire festive period wishing it was over as quickly as possible. Constantly stressing, obsessing and planning how I’d still manage to control my food intake and get away with eating as little as possible. I didn’t enjoy the family parties, and I didn’t think of how much stress it was causing my family and friends because I was so focused on letting the eating disorder remain my priority. But this year is different and for all those out there who’s struggling too, this is how i’m going to do it:

  1. Be less involved
    In years past I’d have to know EXACTLY what food was going to be there on christmas day, boxing day and the days leading up to it so I could plan it all in advance, but this year I’ve left the food shopping to my parents and chose not to go. This might not seem like a big deal, or that it would make much of a difference but CHOOSING not to stress over it, takes away the ability to over think everything.
  2. Focus on other things
    Don’t make plans around food, be mindful of what and how you’re eating throughout the day but let it be a part of your day, not the centre of your decisions. This year I have ‘planned’ to go to my sisters house on xmas eve for a party-to drink, socialise, play games and watch christmas films; I have ‘planned’ to spend christmas day with my family and I have ‘planned’ to enjoy our annual family boxing day party-but i have not ‘planned’ what i will or will not eat on these days.
  3. Externalise your eating disorder
    As weird as it sounds (and its a difficult concept to grasp when an eating disorders been part of you for so long) separate yourself from it. Think of it as a totally different entity to you who is not invited.
  4. Be spontaneous
    Take the opportunity to challenge yourself outside you’re ‘normal’ routine. If your normal ‘rules’ are to have ‘x’ amount of set meals or snacks a day…listen to your hunger and your body..grab a quality street between meals, toast a marshmallow, have 4 big meals and the occasional chocolate/dessert instead of 6 little ones..whatever it is to challenge the disordered thoughts and integrate you into normality with what everyone else is doing. It might just show you the world won’t fall apart if you stray from you’re safe routine and you might just enjoy yourself.
  5. Keep things in perspective.
    In my case, it’s 3 days out of my normal routine..not tracking food..not planning meals..just joining in with the festivities and eating mindfully and intuitively and ENJOYING my time with my family and friends. I know I won’t binge because that’s not something I struggle with and I don’t restrict myself enough anymore to feel the desire to do so..but even so, if I over indulged a bit ‘too much’ or just more so than usual, 3 days is not going to kill me.
  6. Do it for others
    This has been the biggest help for me recently. If you’re struggling to do it for yourself, do it for your friends and family. Try and take a more relaxed approach to make THEM happy, to make THEM proud and to give THEM a stress free christmas that they deserve. Even in normal day to day life this has been the best thought process to keep me on track when I’ve been struggling – thinking of how pleased they’ll be to see me succeed when they try so hard to support and motivate me!

So with all that being said, try to enjoy yourselves this Christmas, do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up what ever happens!!

Lots of love,

Emma xo

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Are you recovered?

One sticking point that keeps re-occurring is how do you know if you’re recovered? Are you ever recovered or just permanently ‘in remission’ and learning to control the anorexic thoughts/behaviours?

Truthfully? I don’t know.

But one thing I have noticed is that you can’t expect a big change over night. Yes, sometimes there’s a point where you may have a sudden ‘revelation’ and truly decide you have hit rock bottom, can’t carry on and want to get better-i know i did- but by no means did this mean all my fears disappeared in a heart beat! The changes are so small that you don’t notice them day to day but you have to just focus on tiny goals every day. You can’t get disheartened by slow progress. Constantly work on one tiny challenge at a time and slowly slowly they add up. Set yourself 3-5 little goals for the week and focus on them, it’s like anything that takes practice, if you have the positive thoughts for long enough they eventually become the norm.

I’ve chipped away at my issues one manageable step at a time, sometimes feeling like i’m spinning my wheels and then one day I looked back and realised ‘oh I forgot to weigh myself this week’ – when previously it would be the first thing on my mind every morning and at numerous points throughout the day….or ‘oh I don’t count all my steps anymore’ – even though I can’t consciously remember deciding to stop. But the one biggest change I’ve noticed occur over time is my biggest fear is no longer gaining ‘too much’ weight. Yes, this is still a big fear of mine, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t-but the one thing I’m now scared of above anything else is the idea of relapse. It’s easy to forget the darkest times-and push them to the back of my mind because it’s too painful to remember all that distress, panic and exhaustion. The aching muscles and bones, the nights spent trying to stay awake outĀ of fear that if I fall asleep I might not wake up. At the time it seems like your ‘safe little bubble’ because you don’t have feel anything -you’re completely numb to it-just plodding through each day. That is why recovery is so hard sometimes, you start to feel all the pain you have inflicted on yourself but blocked out at the time.
But I can honestly say it is 150% worth it- and nothing in this world could make me go back there.

So the take away from this is you don’t have to run before you can walk, or even crawl as the case may be but don’t stop. Keep looking forward and don’t look back.

Lot of love..Emma xo