Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anorexia, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
To anyone who struggles around this time of year, I know this time of year can often feel like the most dreadful time of year instead of the most wonderful time of year. It can be a reminder of what we have lost, it can be a reminder that a new year is approaching. It can be a time of year when the eating disorder voice gets louder along with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health challenges. They can all scream a little louder than usual and become more overwhelming.
This will be the first Christmas in a long time that I have struggled with an eating disorder. I remember the last time I struggled with this was at Christmas a number of years back when I was deep in my battle with fighting anorexia. It was an extremely difficult time, I remember the thought of Christmas and all the food that comes with it threw me into a constant state of anxiety. I dreaded Christmas Day, I dreaded having to eat, I dreaded the thoughts, the looks and the comments. I dreaded the foods anorexia had deemed unsafe foods for me but I know it’s important to challenge these fear foods. Yes, when you challenge them the eating disorder voice usually tends to get louder and madder, but the more you challenge them the less power the eating disorder has and the closer you will get to recovery. You are allowed to indulge in your favourite Christmas treats.
It’s important to let those around us know that this is a difficult time of year. We can’t assume people know this time of year is challenging for us, so it’s important we let them know so we can get support around us.
If you are feeling anxious around meal times at Christmas, try planning activities to do before and after meals whether it’s talking to a friend on the phone, playing a game, watching a movie or TV show, or doing crafts or a puzzle. This could help take your mind off things and quieten that eating disorder voice.
Christmas along with New Year’s can be consumed by a constant battle with our minds. A battle that feels like one we are not destined to win. No matter how true that feels, I need you to know that is far from the truth, you are destined to win this battle and you deserve recovery. You are not ready to give up this fight, you are so incredibly brave and strong. Things can’t stay bad forever, they have to get better. Take a deep breath and take things one step at a time, be patient with yourself. Know that it’s okay to let yourself cry and it’s okay to allow yourself time to work through difficult emotions. I know this is difficult but you can get through this. The world is better with you in it!
I will leave you with these three quotes:
“This feeling will pass. The fear is real but the danger is not.” - Cammie McGovern
“You are strong enough to face it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.” - Anonymous
“You have plenty of voices in your head telling you you’re broken and worthless. Allow me to be the voice in your head that says differently. You are loved, you are whole, you are not alone, you are priceless.” - Whitney Hanson
Lots of love,
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