Part five: And now, with the sun on my face
My recovery has been tested several times, but none more so than when Tim was ill. When he had his kidney transplant quite suddenly in August 2015, we all went into shock. True to form, my appetite disappeared. My stress response was right there, trying to show me a way that I could control the uncontrollable.
I had no power over how the surgery went, whether the kidney would work, whether Tim would recover from this.
The me of a few years ago might well have fallen into its familiar grip, but I promised myself a long time ago that I WILL NEVER, EVER GO BACK THERE. I have seen what life can be like on the other side. And it is so beautiful. I love living without the darkness suffocating me.
Every day, I will fight for the light to remain.
So I forced myself to eat again, as I had when I was recovering myself a few years earlier. I felt sick with panic and worry for months after Tim’s transplant, as he fought complication after complication.
I lost weight, and believe me, I liked it. My anorexic brain will always revel in a perverse sense of accomplishment when that happens. I’ve accepted that’s always going to be the way.
I ate anyway, and flicked the finger to the shitty goblin on my shoulder goading me to listen to it. I talked about how I felt, and about how easy it would be to slip. Being honest with myself about this is how I got to where I am.
If my recovery can remain intact through that, I’m confident I can get through anything and still stay true to my promise to myself to never go back.
Creating the energy (when you have none) to appear as though you’re fine when you feel like a little piece of you is physically dying inside is exhausting. Trying to be the person you’re so desperate to be, while feeling like the world’s biggest fake is unspeakably draining. This is what it means to have an eating disorder. I will never forget how it felt every day to suffer like that.
Looking back it was pure hell, and I know what the phrase ‘depths of despair’ means. But I look back from a position of strength and personal peace.
I worked harder on my recovery than I have on anything else in my life, and I fought like hell to get better. The contrast I have now when I stop and appreciate how free I am today compared to back then is a beautiful thing. I’m grateful for it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m lucky this happened to me, and that I had the support and love to overcome it and tell this story in the hope that it can show others who are suffering that pushing yourself to the absolute limit in the name of reclaiming the life that you deserve is more than possible. The world is so vividly colourful now, and the simplest of beauties that were lost on me back then seem so much more special now. That’s a privilege, and I’ll never see it as anything else.
I now have control over how far I slip down the slope. And I like the view from the top, thanks.
The support and messages of honesty, hope and love I’ve received while writing this series has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, comment and share it with people in your lives who might relate to it in some way.
I’m thrilled that this version of my story is going to be published later in the year in a book as part of a collection of real-life experiences to raise money for a number of charities. If you’ve read this series and felt a connection with it, perhaps you’d consider buying that book when it comes out? The more money it raises, the more work can be done to support people living with mental illness. I’ll be sharing more on my social channels when the book is out, so watch this space. X