Four years ago on the 11th of April, I was admitted voluntarily to the eating disorders inpatient program at a psychiatric hospital in Melbourne. Each year, I find myself commemorating that day with some form of reflection on my progress. Over the past year, I’ve learnt some important lessons which have furthered my recovery journey enormously. These have been:
- Recovery is not linear.
- I am an adult with an adult body.
- I am my best friend.
- My recovery is my business.
- Things make more sense in macro.
- My recovery will last as long as I do.
- Normal is an individual metric.
Today’s post concerns the lesson that things make more sense in macro.
I have spent many years analysing my diet and exercise on a micro scale. Overeating and feeling full at dinner would mean a walk was definitely in order to counteract the excess calories. Eating out at lunch time would mean a healthy snack for afternoon tea was obligatory because I had already had my dose of unhealthy, ‘naughty’ food for the day.
I suppose this zooming out goes hand-in-hand with the divorce I have been going through from rules. My rules forced me to zoom in and analyse things within the microcosm of a single day. Without rules, it is much easier to take a broader, more flexible viewpoint and consider health not as the result of balancing diet and exercise properly each day, but as a longer-term combination of good food and activity.
Previously, eating one ‘unhealthy’ meal or feeling full after one meal led me to believe that I was ballooning – gaining weight at an alarming pace – and setting myself on the fast track to obesity. I now know that I was blowing that one meal way out of proportion. In the scheme of months, even years, of eating and exercising and studying and socialising and aging, how could that one piece of cake really make the smallest iota of difference? Answer: it couldn’t.
Similarly, the zoom-out has rejigged my attitude to exercise. For years, I felt compelled to do something active every day, whether this be a walk, yoga or something else. I believed that failure to fulfil this daily ‘requirement’ would, as with eating, set me on the fast track to obesity. I now know that exercise need not be a feature of every single day. In the scheme of months, even years, of eating and exercising and studying and socialising and aging, how could that one day without exercise really make the smallest iota of difference? Answer: it couldn’t.
If you’re looking for more information about eating disorders, or indeed any other mental health issues, the Australian Government’s mindhealthconnect website is a really useful tool which collects all the relevant resources from organisations such as beyondblue and The Butterfly Foundation into one place.
Tomorrow, I will discuss the lesson that my recovery will last as long as I do.
Love, hope and peace from Emma.