Living with an eating disorder over Christmas – Katie's story
As we enter a new year, it’s important to reflect on both the good and the bad to help us learn, grow and move forward. This is especially important for someone in recovery from an eating disorder, to help them notice their patterns and take the steps to fully recover. In this blog, Katie celebrates how far she has come in her journey.
I was diagnosed with an eating disorder at 12 years old, so I have had battles around eating and food for around 16 years. I’ve always been a perfectionist, so food was a way of controlling my life. I have now been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), which has really helped to explain some of my feelings surrounding control and impulsivity, as well as chaotic cycles of behaviour.
My relationship with food is greatly driven by emotion. I eat when I am sad and eat when I am happy. As an adolescent, I’d restrict food as a way of coping with emotions. My relationship with exercise is very similar to food, in the sense that it was a way of controlling my weight and therefore, was driven by emotions and control.
Eating disorder recovery isn’t an overnight process.
I used to find Christmas and New Year extremely difficult because of the association with larger meals; such as Christmas dinners, buffets at events, chocolates... This was very stressful, and I found the festive period very depressing as a result. I am now at a stage in my recovery where I can enjoy the festivities of Christmas without worrying about what or how much I am eating. I can enjoy time with family without feeling the depression and worry associated with my eating disordered thought patterns.
I found therapy incredibly helpful for managing my eating disorder and addressing the feelings of control that were driving these negative behaviours. Getting rid of weighing scales was a big help, and eating three meals a day gave a sense of predictability to mealtimes. It then became a habit to eat three meals without the stress of planning what and when to eat each day.
My relationship with food is greatly driven by emotion.
I wish people knew that eating disorder recovery isn’t an overnight process. No one wakes up the next day and suddenly can eat without worry or stop any restrictive behaviours without stress and anxiety. Recovery is a slow process, so it’s okay to take steps back before steps forward are made.
I would consider myself to now be in recovery and have been for several years now. My current relationship with food is free from stress and much healthier. I now enjoy exercise with my children - activities such as swimming, walking, gymnastics and dance are part of our day to day lives, without the pressure of exercising off calories. I would like to learn to swim in the new year - exercise has previously been something very obsessive and negatively driven, but I now feel in a place where I can manage this and would like to learn to swim!
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