When the work doesn’t work

I thought I had done the work – I weigh a healthy weight, I eat the good foods, I rest, I practice gratitude, I yoga, I see the therapist, I do all of the things. So, why don’t I feel any better?

When I started this journey, I thought as soon as I put the weight on, as soon as I overcame the fear around food, lost the obsessive-compulsive behaviours over exercise and released the rules that everything would be better, everything would magically be perfect and I would be happy. I am not.

Where the eating disorder has gone, a huge empty gap has been left. The eating disorder was safe, it filled the emptiness by being all consuming and not allowing me to think or focus on much else. Without it, there is a void. My problem is – I don’t know what to fill this void with and I don’t know how to do it. This feeling is not easy to sit with and it is this feeling that the eating disorder sedates so readily, so easily.

And so it is now that I start a brand new journey, a journey of discovery, a journey to happiness. The eating disorder pretended it brought me happiness, it actually provided the opposite. To make sure that I do not fall in to those patterns and go down that dark path again, I start on a new path to discover me, to discover the things that make me truly happy. No distractions. No disordered behaviours. No ignoring it. No dulling it. Whole-heartedly taking this by the balls and taking back my life.

The question is where to start? What makes me truly happy? What gives me those butterfly feelings in my tummy? The smile that can’t be wiped? That feeling of contentment, of peace? What is it? The eating disorder and anxiety has dulled any of these feelings for so long, I really am not sure that they are possible for me any more. But I sure as hell am going to try to find out if they are!

First: make a list. I love a good list and this one might become one of the most important lists of my life. My list of things that I believe might make me happy.

The happy list:

  • Friends and social connection. This is something anxiety and an ED hate (the ED can be caught out if it is seen and anxiety likes to be alone). I went from being an extremely social person, always a ‘hells yeh’ to a very definite ‘no’ and this is something I still struggle with and am struggling to get back because if you say no often enough you stop getting invited.
  • Connection with my partner. My partner became my carer. I want him to be my lover and that was stolen by the eating disorder and the anxiety. To get this back would make me happy.
  • A sense of giving back. I used to do be an extremely charitable person. My illness has made me selfish – I want to give back again.
  • Looking after me. Ironically my issues began because I wanted to look better. What actually happened is that I lost all care for the way I looked and the only thing that mattered was the obsession. I want to care for myself; I want to feel a sense of pride for who I am.
  • Random acts of kindness. I used to do em all of the time before they were even a thing. I didn’t even realise I did it but I was known for it, it came naturally to me to just be nice. I love the feeling that doing something (no matter how small) for someone else gives me. I have lost that and I want it back.

I want all of these things that feel truly me that I feel in my core are me. I want them back. And this is where the real work begins. Bring it on.