If anything has happened to you, or if you have ever been through anything from which you have had to ‘recover’, how do you know when you have reached the end of the road and gone from ‘recovering’ to ‘recovered’?
The journey of rehabilitation and ‘getting better’ is different for everyone. It can vary from person to person, then from one situation they are dealing with to the next.
For example, after running the Edinburgh marathon earlier this year, I suffered from a stress fracture in my foot. It hurt like hell and I was hobbling around everywhere like a pirate. Not a good look. The recovery from this injury took about 6 weeks, and before long I was running on the treadmill again, and, thankfully, walking like a normal person. Recovered.
At the beginning of the year I had the shingles. I was supposed to take 10 days off work and stay in bed the entire time, but, as I was self employed at the time, I couldn’t afford to take the time off, so I took two days, and then suffered through the rest. A week later, I was able to get out of bed without crying, and the shingles rash had gone. Recovered.
But what about when it come to other things? Like chronic pain? Or mental illnesses?
I was diagnosed officially with acute bulimia nervosa at age 22, and put straight onto anti-depressants (they’re used frequently as treatment for eating disorders). I was put onto a waiting list for a counsellor as well, but moved away from Glasgow before anything came to fruition there. At age 24 I was diagnosed with clinical depression, PTSD and general anxiety disorder, and it was at age 24 that I had what Mr OneBigStressball and I call my ‘blip’ which I still find incredibly tough to talk about.
All of these things are currently under as much control as can be and medicated, but how am I supposed to know when I have recovered fully?
For now, I have been mentioning to anyone who is curious or happens to ask about my past that I am still in the process of recovering. I’m still trying to ‘get better’.
With things like this, the lines are pretty blurred. I had a severe eating disorder when I was 22, but just because I am not purging anywhere near as much as I used to do, each and every single mealtime is still a battle of thoughts and negative emotion to me, and I still don’t have a great relationship with food. I’m still learning to use the tools given to me by counsellors and therapists in order to repair that damaged connection I have with eating, and have been slowly putting different strategies together to try and think and react to different situations in ways other than being unkind to myself. I’m still trying to come into each meal time with a positive attitude and enjoy what I am eating. I’m still recovering.
The same goes for the depression and the anxiety. I’m not currently at a particularly low point in my life, and again, I’ve been implementing the new ways of reacting to unpleasant situations to try and keep depressive episodes at bay. However, I know in the back of my mind that it is stupidly easy for me to fall down what I describe to people feels like my ‘black hole of non-emotion’ and that it is something that could creep up on me at any time. So, instead of letting it do that, I’m learning to enjoy my life and take it day by day, and keep on top of my medication in order to try and keep it controlled. If a period of time comes along where I find myself in my black hole, then so be it, but for now, it’s at arm’s length. I’m still recovering.
It’s very easy for anyone and everyone who is going through some process of recovery to beat themselves up about making or not making progress. But, just as a runner won’t be able to run a full marathon a mere few weeks after breaking their foot, so too must we remember that there is no time limit on how we conquer our EDs or mood disorders. It takes time, it takes effort, and most of all it takes patience. If you are suffering from any of these illnesses I have spoken about, I want you to remember that there is zero shame in taking your time to get better. It’s been almost 4 years since my ED diagnosis, and learning how to manage it is still a daily learning curve for me. I am adamant it will not control my life again, but who am I to say what will happen in the future? For now, I have a good support system, I am learning every day, and I am fighting.
I’m still recovering.