I started this week with a promise to myself to do everything I could to get Eating Disorders on peoples radar, to get the discussion going and to ensure that those suffering in silence were given the hope that help is available, that recovery is possible.
What I didn’t quite expect however was the wealth of opportunity I was given, for the people I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to and hopefully the handful of sufferers who I was able to connect with, in a way which I can only describe as precious.
It brought me great pleasure to put together the first ever ED Recovery Fayre in Bedford, and as with all things my need for perfectionism drove me to periods of panic but with the most incredible support, every single element fell into almost the most perfect of places.
Fraught with anxiety, even the journey there had me breaking down, one cancellation in and I was terrified that speakers would be left facing a handful of listeners, that the hall would stand empty with stalls laden with resources going unread.
I could not have been more wrong- the turnout was incredible. The speakers were both informative and inspirational. I was humbled to speak and meet with people from all walks of life, with varying levels of daily struggles but all, without doubt leaving, with a flicker of hope that recovery might be possible.
The people who came included service users, carers and professionals, each bringing their own unique and wonderful stories.
I wish I could tell you of some of the conversations I was privy to, but that would be totally irresponsible and disloyal but I will, no doubt, remember those encounters for the rest of my life as will my Mum who was able to offer her own level of support and insight.
When it came to my turn to speaking, I stood exposed as usual at the front of a packed out room and spoke of two key themes, Hope and Opportunity. The ingredients for a blossoming life and to form the focus of recovery.
This week I found the hope that recovery was and is possible. That it isn’t too late for me, that this life, as defined by rules and regulations might not be one of permanence but may actually just be a moment in time, a snapshot.
I reminded myself that recovery is a blessing hidden by manipulation in its most violent of forms, and that recovery brings the opportunity to do all the things that a free life entails.
To cry with joy and sorrow
To fall in love, experiencing the euphoric and giddy highs but leaving myself open to heartbreak.
Try new things, perhaps Horse riding or dare I say it- a bit of knitting!
Succeed professionally and perhaps academically but also fail miserably, maybe having a little laugh at myself in the process.
Have I learnt about my diagnosis- no, not really. After almost a decade of this mere existence I am not sure that there is really anything else left to learn or uncover. Perhaps I am a little too in the know, the expert in my own illness, the expert in all things anorexia. Have I raised my own awareness- yes, yes I have. Awareness I suppose of the strength with which my illness still has its ugly hold on me, on how it manipulates me and has turned every thought into a distortion.
Eating Disorders Awareness Week raising awareness in myself, in my continued fragility and of my need to keep pushing, fighting, surviving- whatever the word is. I just have have to keep going.
Stay with me folks, stay with me.
With all the love in the world, with thanks and admiration for everyone of you who faces your own battles every single day.
You’re amazing and totally worth every breath.