Who knew it could be possible for someone to go from feeling like they’re at rock bottom, unable to climb back up, to feeling filled with motivation and excitement for the future? I’m not referencing a severe form of Bipolar here, I’m referring to the transformation that is experienced in my mindset every time I strike up a conversation with my Mum or Dad, whereby I discuss my struggles, opening up about how I’m feeling.
This support, as described above, is something that I am eternally grateful for. As I navigate my way through eating disorder recovery, my parents act as both my rock and my leader, remaining there as a constant source of strength whilst guiding me back to health and happiness. They help me to recognise just how irrational my thoughts really are, which serves to diminish the offloaded guilt my eating disorder has plagued me with.
The thought of having no support, of having to deal with the relentless nature of my eating disorder, day in, day out, on my own, is to put it frankly, a horrifying thing to even consider.
Talking through my feelings is what ‘gets me out of my head.’ Without the opportunity to enagage in a supportive conversation with my parents when needed, I would have no choice but to keep my thoughts to myself, causing them to take up more and more of my headspace. Having no outlet to release my emotions would most likely lead to me spiralling into depression, which would undoubtebly result in me falling further into the unforgiving trap of my eating disorder.
Unfortunately, I know that this is what happens to many people who live alone, or who don’t have a supportive network around them. This is their reality. They’re isolated with just themselves and their disordered thoughts, with no one present to question them, no one there to encourage the maintenance of a; ‘recovery-centered’ mindset.
Whilst I can’t pretend to know exactly how this feels, to have a lack of support, I can understand the hardship that people face, at least to a certain extent.
Although I’m incredibly lucky in that I have a lot of support, a lot of the time, there is still one day a week when I’m at home by myself, when my Mum is at college and my Dad is a work. On this day, when I’m on my own without that support so easily accessible, I can quite easily be lured back into my eating disorder and, believe me, the urge is certainly there, but, I don’t. I refuse to give in to it and I do so, by remembering something that I have learnt over time: ‘the one thing that will keep me on track with my recovery, is accountability.‘
But, what does this mean? What does it meant to be ‘accountable?’
The definition of accountability is; ‘the fact or condition of being responsible.’ In order for a person to be described as being ‘accountable’, they must have a sense of ownership for themselves and the consequences of their actions. I am accountable in the sense that I refrain from diverting back to my eating disorder even when times get tough.
As a protective factor to keep me on track with my recovery, I also ensure that I am accountable not just to myself, but to someone, or something, else. This spurs me on, reminding me why I need to keep pushing on through any hard feelings because I know, deep down, that the uncomfortableness will pass, as it always does. And when it does fade away, I can be proud of my tenacity and dedication to my recovery. I can look back, not with regret, but with admiration for the strength I have shown throughout my difficult journey through recovery.
So, how exactly do I stay accountable?
Well, what you’re reading now, is the answer to that very question. This blog is the greatest thing that keeps me accountable, both to myself, and to all of the incredible people who take an interest in what I write.
Alongside this blog, my family keep me accountable. I know that my eating disorder isn’t just hurting me, it is also hurting everyone I love, because they have to watch me struggling, feeling hopeless, unable to help me. I therefore owe it to them to really commit myself to recovery, so that none of us have to suffer at the hands of mental illness for a day longer.
When I was in the depths of my eating disorder, alongside my blog I also created an Instagram account which I used to document my meals. This was particularly helpful on the days when I was alone at meal times, as it gave me the little prompt and nudge of motivation I needed to listen to the part of my brain that wanted me to be well, as opposed to my eating disorder.
I highly reccomend that everyone struggling with an eating disorder has something or someone that keeps them accountable, in the same way that I have.
Though not everyone’s cup of tea, I definitley think that social media has a lot of benefits in terms of helping one stay accountable, as sharing your journey, from my experience, helps you to remain committed to recovery because you’re eager to show that you ‘practice what you preach.’ I would therefore encourage everyone to consider starting a blog or an Instagram channel, as not only does this allow you to express yourself and get your thoughts out, it also serves as a form of accountability which, as I hope is evident now you are reaching the end of this post, is an extremely important thing in recovery.
So, what/who do you have to stay accountable for, alongside yourself? Let me know in the comments and lets share our advise.
And, always remember, You’ve got this.