Picking yourself up from a down day
Today is one of those days that's just a bit rubbish. I didn't sleep well - the night sweats were horrid, I woke up feeling bloated and gross, I'm missing my girlfriend ridiculous amounts, and making myself eat breakfast was a struggle for the first time in weeks. Oh, and just now I've looked down at my leg to see a rash has formed on my ankle and Oh. My. God, it's itchy. So no, I'm not feeling fab, but I thought I'd write this post, for myself as much as anyone, to prove that we can and will get through the tough patches.
So, what to do when you're feeling miserable?
DON'T TURN TO YOUR ED!!!!
No matter how dreadful it seems or how hopeless life or recovery feels, we cannot look for a quick fix on days like this (or ever). I know that this morning, skipping breakfast would in the short term, have made me feel better, or more so, that's what my ED has told me. This is because it would have lowered the anxiety surrounding my bad body image, and made me feel like I was at least in control of one aspect of life when I'm struggling so much with having lost it due to the lockdown. The key though, is that this is only a short term fix, and so whilst it might help me feel better for all of 5 minutes today, in the long run it's sending me straight back into my ED.
In order to resist the urge to be sucked in by my ED voice, I have to remind myself that this day and this feeling won't last forever, but my ED will, unless I consistently and actively fight it. Furthermore, I have to remember that every day living in the depths of my ED was awful, and that I know that any restrictions I make today, are going to hang over me, because my ED is not just going to let me return to normal tomorrow if I wake up in a good mood, no, it will only want more. Therefore, I need to deal with my down day using healthy coping mechanisms, not by running back to the exact thing that's been destroying my life. The latter, despite what it may feel like, is the definition of insanity... we cannot turn to our ED's and expect a different outcome when they have proved over and over to cause us nothing but unhappiness and suffering.
What can we do instead then?
By nourishing our bodies to the best of our abilities we will enable optimal mental functioning too. This means eating a balanced diet, but also honouring your cravings and listening to what your body wants.
It can be all too tempting to just stay in bed and wallow in self pity, but what I find most helpful is to try to occupy my mind in a bid to prevent me from spiralling. This could take the form of:
- Reading (Escaping into another world for a bit might be just what we need)
- Watch something (Maybe a feel good YouTuber, a light film, or a gripping series)
- Get up and dressed (This isn't always possible I know, but personally I find getting a shower and maybe doing my hair or putting some make up on can make me feel a bit more human, or if needed, then aid my productivity)
- Play a game (My go to quick distraction is 'Best Fiends' on my phone. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but it's got me through a lot of challenging meals and situations)
- Get some fresh air (Open a window, or if the options available, then sit in the garden for a little bit, or maybe go for a gentle walk... I love to take my dog out on the field for half an hour to clear my head)
- Socialise (Message a friend, or if you live with other people go and see if they're free for a chat)
- Art (I love doing some colouring in or drawing, but whatever you feel like!)
I know not all of these are possible for everyone, but this list is far from exhaustive and what's most important is to find something that suits you!
Even if your bad day is not the result of your ED but something completely external, our ED's will see our low mood as an opportunity to sneak in. Due to this we need to be armed with our reasons for recovery to encourage us to keep challenging our ED voice. These also serve to remind us that what we're doing will be worth it. This is significant, as for me at least, something going wrong can send me down a very negative and narrow path in which I implement toxic "All or nothing" thinking, and decide that because this one thing hasn't gone to plan, everything's a disaster and I should just give up. Therefore, it is important to remind ourselves that recovery is not just for the days we're feeling up to it. We need to be consistent as just dipping a toe in recovery is highly ineffective, and so it is especially when we're not feeling up to it, that we need to really push to actively challenge our ED.
I hope this post can help you to pick yourself up if you're having a down day. Remember that recovery is an always choice, and that whilst feeling low can be demoralising, we need to keep fighting to make it to the other side.
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3