I’ve always been an “all or nothing” kind of person. I’m a perfectionist by nature and if I commit to something then I’ll most often do my best at whatever that task might be. Commit to HSC? Check. Commit to sport? Check. Commit to “healthy eating”? Check.
Determination, willpower, perfectionism – they’re all characteristics that you’ll find in people who suffer from eating disorders. So it doesn’t quite make sense then, that in terms of my recovery from said disorder, I was ready to accept that I might never fully “get there”. For once in my life, I was ready to give a half-hearted effort, perhaps at the one thing that required my full commitment (because my life and wellbeing literally depend on it). When I finally realised that I needed to make a change, I guess I always knew that, physically, my body would recover. Over time, of course, and with much anxiety; a process which is still taking place today. But mentally, I didn’t have quite as much hope.
After reading my fair share of literature about the ins and outs of mental illnesses and eating disorders, I was quite ready to accept that I might always be somewhat uncomfortable around food in unfamiliar situations… Once mentally ill, always mentally ill. I was ready to accept that I might spend every day of my life trying to overcome that little sense of doubt and uncertainty that I wake up to in the morning… What will the day hold? I was ready to accept that I might never truly understand what it means to eat “normally”, let alone be able to do it! I was ready to accept that maybe I would be one of those people who think about food far too much… When will I eat next? What will I eat? Can I eat that? What will it do to me? What should I eat considering what I’ve already eaten? How can I politely refuse? Have I eaten too much of this and not enough of that? Please don’t bring attention to me, please don’t. Yes, that really does go on in my head. But like I said, with time, the power of that voice has lessened and I can now identify when the thoughts don’t really belong to me. Thankfully, I am a world away from where I was at my worst, but I am still impacted by disordered thoughts. Every. Single. Day. (Come to think of it, that’s a lot of brain power that could be put towards much better thoughts!)
So I guess this is me saying that I’m not ready to settle for second best. I don’t want to accept the idea that mental illness is something a person never quite overcomes. I don’t want to simply seem “recovered” to other people, or look “better”. I want to know in my heart that it’s true. So to my loved ones and friends, please be patient with me. Please know that every day I try to let go that little bit more, but it won’t all happen at once. Please know that without you, letting go completely would forever remain an unachievable dream. Please know that your support means the world to me. And please know that I am not giving up.
And you know what? That scares the living daylights out of me.