Balancing challenge with self-care
I have been feeling incredibly anxious in recent days. There‘s no obvious cause that I can see but things have just begun to spiral into all kinds of would-be catastrophes in my head, so much so that for the first time in a long while I have had to fight with myself just to get out of the house on several days. I know that my catastrophic thinking is mostly irrational, the things I imagine happening when I go out are unlikely to actually happen but at times it has been overwhelming. I have had to put a lot of faith into the philosophy of “feel the fear and do it anyway” in order to force myself to get the dog walked each morning. However, this is the only way I can and will beat it - staying at home and avoiding things until I feel better isn’t going to work. (Plus I’d end up with one very fed up dog!)
That said, I am also trying to stay on top of my self-care and keep that in balance with challenging myself. Self-care is something I have historically struggled with but the extent of which has largely gone unnoticed. It took almost ten years of disordered eating for my anorexia to be picked up and since I generally manage to have a shower at some point before it becomes obvious that I haven’t for days, people naturally assume that the rest of the things that other people do automatically for themselves, I do too. In reality, I struggle with my daily routine, well...daily! That is why I am proud of myself for having breakfast every morning for the past five weeks - ever since I was discharged from the Cassel. This was something that I really tried to work on in the weeks leading up to leaving because I know that skipping the first meal of the day just sets me up to skip others later too. One thing leads to another and then before I know it, I am full on restricting again and heading down the very slippery ED slope. So, breakfast every morning is one mini success! Also, I have managed to cook most of my evening meals from scratch in the time I have been at home too. There have been some freezer or microwave food nights but no more than the average person and cooking real food has by far outweighed them. Hopefully that means that I am getting the right nutrients in me to help fuel my recovery and contribute to greater mental stability. I am on a roll with brushing my teeth everyday - yes, seriously this is a real issue for me! - and I am going to bed and getting up at reasonable hours every day. So, self-care is happening! It is very easy to overlook these simple things in life, particularly in times of distress but small victories really can contribute to larger ones. Sticking to a daily routine that supports the notion that I am worth spending time on inspires me to build on that notion in bigger ways.
It would be easy to let this anxiety wobble spiral into something more but I don’t want it to. This time last year I had one week of my 7 month acute admission left to go and I have to keep reminding myself how different things are now. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be feeling wobbly or finding things hard though. If anything, I need to take care of myself more during this period to prevent things escalating. Also, very importantly, it’s ok not to be ok even when you are further forward to where you have been before; it is not a failure when things are difficult. It’s like having to put the heating on at this time of year, it feels like I shouldn’t have to, especially after how warm it was recently but if a cold day arrives it doesn’t matter what the date is. It is nonsense to just sit in the cold and shiver thinking about how I ‘shouldn’t‘ have to turn on the boiler. Instead I just need to press the button and receive the warmth to make myself feel better - I can always turn the heating off when I no longer need it, just like I can make more progress in my recovery when I am not experiencing such a spike in my symptoms.
I think the key for the next few days needs to be self-soothing. That is something I’m not a natural at so in fact, it is a good opportunity to further my recovery by learning to implement a new skill. Wish me luck!