We’re on week whatever of quarantine and the days are starting to blend together. I wake up and I eat, I sleep, I watch Netflix and wander my nearly empty apartment until about 6:00 where I realize that it’s not Sunday – it’s Tuesday. It’s been difficult to keep myself on track with my goals with the challenges thrown my way. I will say that with everything that I’ve experienced in my time in quarantine I’m actually okay (yeah, I know, weird, right?).
I have truly been tested by my eating disorder in these weeks – most recently, I almost lost my Dad to a stroke. I’m happy to announce that we have received word from his doctors that my dad is expected to make a full recovery. I want to thank my Mom for getting him the care that he needed in the time necessary – Mom, you saved his life – and the doctors at Credit Valley and Trillium Hospitals for helping my Dad through one of the scariest moments we’ve had as a family. Last time my family experienced this was with my Mom and her brain surgery, and I fell into a deep relapse that had me in psychiatric care within 3 months. I could have so easily fallen back into the patterns of my eating disorder – the eating disorder is easy. I’ve lived the eating disorder life for so many years that I don’t know what “normal life” is like, but I made the harder choice: I chose to recover.
In order to support this choice, I’ve had to make a lot of changes and with the state of the world right now, that’s been somewhat difficult. We all have to make changes and you’re not alone if you’re struggling. You’re not alone. It’s hard to be isolation and to not know what’s going to happen. Even though I can’t control what’s happening in my life, I can control my actions and work to put measures in place that can support me through this. I’ve decided to share the little things that I’ve been able to put in place that are helping me through this quarantine. If there’s anything that you’ve managed to do for yourself, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about how you little ones are coping.
- Video chats with friends: I’m still working towards positive behaviour change – I think that while I’ve made progress I still have a lot to learn not only about myself, but how to interact with the world around me. I am a person that will lose themselves completely in trying to help someone else and I never learned how to ask for help when I need it. This prevented me from growing confident in my ability to communicate with people. While quarantine isn’t the best place to practice communication skills, it is a start. I’ve started by planning weekly check-ins with friends that are set in stone – we both put it in our planners and recognize that this is something we have to do to benefit ourselves. I need some sort of accountability to remind me of my recovery goals and to keep me from falling further into the social isolation that accompanied my eating disorder, especially in the time of social isolation. I have an amazing support team built upon friendship, honesty, and love, and I am so lucky to have that in my life.
- Focusing on the basics: I was fresh out of treatment and had just gotten clearance from my doctors to go back to work for the first time in 3 years. I got a job as a junior stylist at a salon and I really thought I was becoming a real person again, not a patient. I was so proud of myself – and then, coronavirus hit. The salon closed; I closed my in-home studio; and the world shut down in the following days. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt that I was repeating the same patterns from my eating disorder life and expecting a different result, and to a degree I was. It just took me three weeks to see that. My best friend helped me by reminding me of why they teach us basic skills in eating disorder: “they are the basics for a reason.” These skills are the foundation for everything that I can build recovery on top of. I was trying to skip over learning the basics, like taking care of myself with, food is medicine, and dealing with my emotions, to achieve recovery when I didn’t have the basics figured out. I still struggle to nourish myself on a day to day basis. Am I a hell of a lot farther along than I was before? Fuck yeah I am, and I will continue to go far because I focus on basic skills everyday. I will drink water to avoid dehydration; I will eat because food is medicine; and I will recover because I’m determined.
- Redefining productive: Our society has been riddled with pressure (even before the pandemic) to be productive and the reality is that we NEED to avoid this pressure. You’ve heard of Diet Culture and know to avoid the pressures that come with Diet Culture. Meet Pressure Culture. There is this standard that we feel that we have to live up to but that doesn’t have to exist. We are all at very different places in our lives dealing with very different situations and emotions, and we can’t expect ourselves to be able to perform in the isolation the same way as others. We have to redefine what is going to look like for us as individuals. I, for one, actually thrive in isolation and have taken the time to build up basic skills (drinking water, eating, self-care) so that I can thrive outside of self-isolation. I’m spending my days focusing on my connection to my body and my emotions by simply listening to them and doing what I need to do to take care of myself. Some days, being productive looks like drinking a glass of water, and some days it it looks like Marie Kondo personally cleaned my apartment. My point is, I define what productive looks like for me each day because what I need to be productive changes each day. Avoid the pressure to be productive by society’s terms, and redefine it.
These three little things have honestly made a huge impact in my experience in quarantine. We may be social distancing and I have never been closer to my friends and loved ones than in this time (but let’s be real, I’d love to give them all a big hug); I am allowing myself the time to build a foundation for which my recovery will thrive; and I’m doing what I have to do to get myself through this pandemic. I’m pretty damn proud of that.
I don’t know when this is going to end. I do know that it will eventually end and we will all be together again. Please spend this time focusing on loving yourself and those around you.