Welcome back, I was told the other day by someone who’s seen me disappear into the illness. At the ED clinic where I am in treatment we talked about how at ED wards people come in thinking the illness makes them somehow special and that they lose that ‘specialness’ without it. In fact, the illness makes robotic sad clones walk into the ward, and when the illness has been knocked out, what leaves the hospital is a group of personalities, individuals.
I have to think about this constantly when the illness tries its best moves on me. I have to find evidence of the fact that I am and will always be, millions more than my weight or my shape. The people who truly matter like me for things other than the shape of my body. Last night I went to dinner (hurrah, a successful visit to a restaurant!) with my oldest friend who has known me for *krhm* a very long time (I like to tell people I am eternally 21, but every year folks believe less and less of my lie). I had to make sure she would definitely like me if I was a different shape. I had had a particularly bad day at that point and the ED thoughts were all over my brain. On good days I don’t ask that question because I know it’s a stupid one.
My top tip for recovery: cultivate new identities. I am trying my best at the moment. I used to only have an identity as a professional of a certain field, but as gaining employment in Finland has been super-hard for me since returning here (partly, but not solely, due to my foreign social work-y qualification and part-Scottish list of work experience), I have had to work really hard to make myself feel like I still have some value in the world. At the same time, when I invent myself as a hobbyist poet, board member, active, peer support volunteer, musician, student, aunt or a friend, I get more evidence for the fact that I am allowed to exist and what I do has a place in the world. My illness thinks I should not be, so this evidence is fairly crucial. I am currently unemployed partly probably due to what I think is unfair discrimination (those darned foreign qualifications) and that is two massive triggers for me right there. I have identified unfair treatment as my top 1 trigger. If I think I am treated unfairly, bam, the gates are open wide for ED behaviours to return. Unemployment also in general is unpleasant, because all I’ve ever wanted was to work to make this world a nicer place by working in the social care/work sector, yet I am unable to do so. Unemployment makes one depressed very quickly and gives raise to feelings of worry and stress. Guess how I used to deal with those feelings? Correct, ED behaviours aplenty.
But I won’t. I am staying strong because I’ve just written it down, right there. It’s real now, and the ED doesn’t have access to my laptop to erase this post (ner-ner, you lose).