Adjusting to life out of lockdown
Updated: Jun 29
*Since writing this post my circumstances have changed and I am no longer returning to my old workplace but am starting a new job. Despite this, I still wanted to share as I feel it may be beneficial to someone out there*
At the beginning of Lockdown I wrote a couple of pieces discussing my fears surrounding the situation as well as some tips on how to keep up recovery motivation over the period. When I posted these I had no idea that the restrictions would only just be being lifted 3 months later, and so I feel it is only right for me to sit down now and share with you my feelings.
It has been since entering lockdown that I have fully committed to recovery, and so in that sense, I have really benefited from the experience. It has by no means been smooth sailing but it is a real positive for me to look back on where I was at the start of this period and see the progress I have made. Many of the attitudes I once held have been drastically altered, and I have definitely seen vast improvements in my mindset as well as the different recovery methods I subscribe to. Whilst I am still not fully recovered, taking a break from the responsibilities of normal life and allowing myslef to focus fully on recovery has really propelled me forwards in my journey. That said, I feel now that I need to get back out into the real world in order to start challenging the remaining ED rules I hold. This change does however bring with it a lot of anxiety, so whilst I know it is necessary it is definitely going to be a tricky transition to make.
The stress and worry that this brings is not unique to those who suffer with mental illness as it is a big adjustment for everyone. There is of course the fear of the virus, but also enhanced social anxieties, and a pressure to go back to normal, or even to show off the new skills you learnt whilst in lockdown. Thanks to toxic diet culture, there is also the perceived pressure to flaunt your weight loss or the results of all your at-home workouts and on the flipside there is the imposed shame if you have gained weight. This is intensified in those of us suffering from eating disorders, as comparison issues can creep in, and especially if weight restoration has been part of your recovery process, then it may be scary to see friends and family again if your body has changed. This has certainly been a point of concern for me, and it ties into my fear of losing my sick identity as well, so I am bracing myself for the well meaning but nonetheless triggering comments of “oooh you look so much better”, or “you look healthy!”. Of course it is only my ED that is opposed to these statements, and I can prepare myself to deal with them by applying mantras and reminding myself of my desire to recover and how miserable I was in my sick body, but they can still be tough to hear.
I am also going to have to face returning to work, and as I have not been there since I was in a bad place in terms of eating, this is something I am anxious about. I am going to have to adjust to both making myself packed lunches and eating in the staff room which are difficult tasks for me. Therefore, in order to overcome the stress and discomfort they casue, I am viewing them as a challenge which will bring me one step closer to full recovery, and something I can be proud of myslef for doing. On top of this, going back to work means I will have to become more flexible with my timings as when I eat will be determined by my shifts. I also need to ensure I am able to adequately fuel myself so that I can work to the best of my ability and not fall back into making restrictions or allowing myslef to skip snacks or meals. This is difficult to me as away from home I don’t have the safety blanket of my family to ensure I stick to my meal plan in times I am lacking motivation, but again, through applying my recovery mindset I am aiming not to let the ED thoughts creep in.
On a final note I want to add that just considering all these challenges can bring about anxiety prior to even facing them, but along the lines of my last post, I think it is important to remember that we do not have to turn to our ED’s to deal with these difficult emotions. We can distract ourselves from the thoughts and use mindfulness techniques to ground oursleves to the present moment. In addition to this, whilst it may be tough or uncomfortable to do so, we can reach out and talk to others about our concerns and take comfort in mutual feelings as well as sharing advice on how we aim to deal with them. I am always here for a chat so feel free to drop me a message over on my instagram @the_recovery_bean!
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3