Healthy Body, Healthy Mind?

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been spending the majority of my life either asleep, in treatment sessions, or out there, living life.

I’ve been getting a lot more leave. It’s weird being ‘outside’. When I came into hospital, anyone who looked at me would have known that I have anorexia. I was very underweight. I was physically very poorly and frequently in and out of medical wards. My secret was out, not just to those I knew, but to the entire world.

I’m physically more stable now. I’m at a healthy weight. Walking around, strangers would have no idea that I’m ill or in hospital. They’d never know that I have anorexia.

Physically, a lot has changed. However, mentally I still struggle. I’m not as trapped or as scared as I was when I first came into hospital all those weeks ago, but I’m also not ‘well’. I’m not recovered or ‘fixed’.

I still struggle. I still have swirling, whirling thoughts going round and round and round my head. I still end up in endless mental circles which can leave me feeling trapped and frustrated. I still struggle with body image to the point where it can be hard to leave the house.

I’m an anorexic brain trapped in a ‘healthy’ body.

Often when I’m walking round, I feel like I have a sign on my head. ‘This person is in hospital’. ‘This person is messed up’. ‘This person requires nurses younger than her to tell her to add three more branflakes to her bowl on a morning’.

Sometimes I wish I had a sign on my head. Maybe then people would know. I don’t know why, or if, I want them to know. I don’t know what I want them to know. I think I just sometimes wish that people could appreciate how hard it can be to enter the supermarket and buy a bag of rice.

There are so many quotes that go along the lines of not judging people. About not knowing what people are going through, or what their story is, until you speak to them. And it’s true, you don’t.

Eating disorders are mental illnesses with physical side effects. Mental illnesses are invisible. You can’t usually work out a person’s diagnosis just from looking at them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not struggling.

I look ‘normal’ now. But my brain is anything but. I still struggle, and one of my main coping mechanisms has been taken away, so in many ways things are even harder than they were a few months ago.

Please don’t think that your weight restored friends/family are ‘fine’ now. We still need your help, your love, and your understanding. We might look ‘better’ to you, and you might be overcome with relief that we’re not looking so much like we’re about to drop dead when you see us, but we aren’t ‘better’, (and even looking ‘better’ is a confusing and anxious situation to be in).

Nobody on this ward has a sign on their head listing their problems. But that doesn’t mean we’re not struggling. It doesn’t mean that we’re not still incredibly unwell. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need support any more. Being weight restored just means that we can take some of the focus away from our physical health, and start to look more at working on the mental side of things.

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