Change is hard for everyone, but I would say particularly in those with eating disorders. This makes any periods of transition difficult, so it is important to support sufferers going through big milestones in life, such as moving house or starting university. These are the circumstances in which I had to deal with both anorexia and bulimia whilst managing change. Yes, I am no longer afraid to kill the stigma and taboo. This is part of my series of mental health posts, click here to read more!
When I was 16, my family decided to move permanently to Edinburgh from Birmingham. This was after over 2 years of endless commuting up and down, and most significantly myself going in and out of inpatient and outpatient treatment. In fact, we moved out of my childhood home just days after I managed to get discharged from hospital. Because I left earlier than the staff would have liked, I hadn’t anywhere near physically or mentally recovered, so studying in a new place, making new friends, getting new jobs and learning a brand new city, was very trying in my vulnerable state. Luckily I was quickly transferred to mental health services here, and had a supportive family network, but I still experienced several relapses and high levels of anxiety, most likely because for the first time in my life, I was fully independent and could make my own choices, which in hindsight, weren’t always the best!
After high school, I decided to study at university in Aberdeen, doing Fashion, but when it came to September I had relapsed so badly that my health just wasn’t good enough to go, so I took a gap year. After the gap year, I went to uni, but left after just one semester because dealing with a lot of increased stress, living away from my friends and boyfriend in a city I didn’t take to at all, took a real toll, causing my bulimia to spiral out of control, which I am still dealing with the backlash of, but in a safer environment back home. I am now having regular outpatient treatment and am re-starting recovery and my studies again.
In retrospect, my advice would be that if you are facing big transitions in your life, or even smaller things such as going on holiday or starting a new part-time job, a new exercise programme, or new relationship, if at all possible, put them on the back burner while you focus on recovering from your eating disorder. If it’s not realistic to postpone these changes, then by all means jump in, but don’t put pressure on yourself to manage perfectly, because living with an eating disorder is a full time career.
Get in touch if you ever want to rant about mental health. Read My Eating Disorder Story if you’re curious for more.
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx