It’s been just over a week since Dad and I flew back into Sydney from our week and a half in Scotland and London and I’ve been hanging out to blog about our time over there and the impact the trip has had on my recovery. I’m currently in the process of moving house and finishing my very last assignment before I graduate so whilst I’ve been trying to prioritise those things; my eagerness to write this has finally won out in the end.
A lot of you know about the trip Dad and I had – it was my first time overseas, it was super last minute and therefore wasn’t really all that planned or structured. The idea of this scared me but I think ultimately the lack of routine and structure is actually what made this trip so successful. Our time over there wasn’t primarily a holiday, per say (though we did have a few days to ourselves in which we explored Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye and London – all of which were unbelievable!) – Dad’s uncle had died a week and a half before and I really wanted Dad to be over there with his family so I told him I’d fly over there with him if he decided to go. I was hella scared about this suggestion I had made, but my desire for Dad to be with his family and for me to meet his family there in Scotland was far more important to me than any eating disorder so off we went. Our time in Scotland was super special to me – really, really special, being able to meet Dad’s cousins and various other relatives he has over there and whom he rarely gets to see. They were all amazing and lovely people, welcoming and straight away I just felt like a part of their family as well. I’d easily go back there; it was incredible.
This blog post could end up being super lengthy, so I’ll just give you the stand out points for me. Dad and I hopped onto the plane in Sydney at 6:30 on Thursday evening and I ate dinner in the sky at 8pm that night. And then I ate supper and breakfast and continued following my meal plan for the entirety of the trip. I ate plane food. I ate pasta. I allowed other people to cook for me. I ate my meals and snacks outside of my regular times and practiced flexibility. I had the first alcoholic drink I’ve had in 4.5 years. I spontaneously ate gelato at 2 in the afternoon not long after we had eaten lunch because heck, it was delicious and who knew when I’d next be in Glasgow to try it out? I went out to dinner numerous times. I was able to get through our time away without having massive meltdowns about “not doing enough exercise”. I ate a pretzel the size of my face. I ate my supper at 10:30 at night because I’d fallen asleep after dinner and had had a big day of visiting Dad’s family – coming from someone who has rules about times I can and can’t eat, this was a pretty big achievement. And I had a really amazing time; my eating disorder barely had a say in a lot of the decisions I made during our trip and truth be told, it was the best thing I have done for my recovery since relapsing at the end of 2012.
6 weeks ago just before I last came out of hospital, I was very suicidal. I couldn’t see any other ways out. I’d often have conversations with people and wonder if it was the last time we would ever speak. I’d penned a letter for my friends and family and treatment team apologising for what I was intending on doing. I felt helpless and hopeless and depressed and all I could see was this big dark hole that I never believed I’d be able to find my way out of. I can see now that was a lie and that there are ways out of that frame of mind.
On our last night overseas, we had dinner in London with some of Dad’s family who live there. I had fish and chips and mushy peas because heck, who goes to London without doing that? It’s basically a requirement of entering the city. I had a conversation that evening with a guy who is a freelance journalist there in London and while he was talking to me and speaking about what his job actually involved, I sat there and realised just how much I’ve been limiting myself these last 4.5 years. I could be anywhere in the world doing anything I wanted, I could be travelling or be in a relationship or moving to the other side of the country to pursue work. I could actually be attending friends parties and feel OK with eating there. I could be flexible and spontaneous and living a life full of all the things I love and then some. The fact of the matter is that I’ve spent this time in and out of hospital, constantly losing and restoring weight, stuck in cycles of relapse and recovery and routines of exercise and restricting and sleeping all day when I wasn’t engaging in the aforementioned behaviours. It’s not as simplistic as I’ve made it out to be here, because if I could have chosen for the last 4.5 years not to have panned out as they have, I would have opted for that in a heartbeat – but I’m coming to see that life can be different, that recovery is a possibility, that it really hurts like hell and doesn’t feel at all worth it throughout the process but it actually can be and WILL be worth it. I wish I had the right words to adequately express just how certain I am of this and I wish I could convince you guys who don’t see this and who feel so stuck and trapped right now that things can be different, but all I can do is continue to work on my own recovery and lead by example, live my life in such a way that you who are suffering can see that there are other ways – good ways – out of this that your head might not allow you to be seeing right now.
So, I’m not yet recovered and there’s probably a long way to go, but what I can say is that this is the best headspace I’ve been in for many, many years. There are other ways out. There are different ways forward. There’s a whole life of heartbreak and joy and tears and laughter and relationships and cloudy days and sunshine to live through just yet. If you can’t believe that for yourself, I’ll carry that hope for you just for now until you can see the truth in what I’ve expressed.
All my love,