The Wall – My Metaphor For Recovery
Posted on November 12th, 2017
I talk a lot on here and on instagram about my experience of recovery and my current masters in Eating Disorders and Clinical nutrition. However, something I’m quite quiet about is my current role as an Eating disorders mentor. In this job I work as part of a small team providing meal support to different clients and helping them with complexities of recovery.
This role lately has really got me thinking back to my own journey of recovery and the relentless challenges and mind games that come with it. The difficult thing is that there are no days off recovery. Everyday is a struggle of torturous guilt when you’re doing your best to stick to a meal plan or refrain from negative behaviours. An enduring internal battle of fighting yourself, or what’s come to feel like yourself, the confliction between wanting to get better and not being able to suppress the eating disorder horrendous. I tell my client I know the feeling, I’ve been there myself.
The further I move from my Eating disorder, the less I am able to understand how much it’s forces took me over. How I manifest the classic symptoms and behaviours without even realising. How difficult I too found it to ” just eat” and actually come to want in my heart of hearts to get better.
But, in reflecting on this both through my work and my studies, I want to liken, at least in part, the journey of recovery to a marathon. Forgive me if you feel like this metaphor reduces the experience. I’ve never run a marathon, but I do know that fighting this mental illness likely takes more willpower and strength on a daily basis than it does to run all of 27 miles. I don’t want to say that the two are like for like. It’s just a way of framing at least part of recovery that I hope might be helpful.
A marathon is a long road, that’s a given, but it’s also demanding physically and mentally and there are times where you just want to give up! Before I go into the details I want to say that if you’ve decided to embark on recovery, or this marathon you already deserve a medal. Maybe you’ve been forced into treatment against your will, or you’re not quite convinced it’s what you want yet. But by simply just turning up for recovery and the challenges it’s going to throw at you, challenges which although tough will bring you health and happiness, you are already a winner.
I’ve heard that marathon runners can it walls, this is the point in their race where they feel like they just can’t go on. They feel powerless and defeated and want nothing more than to stop.
Well similarly on your journey of recovery, your Eating disorder is going to build walls. Hundreds of seemingly impenetrable walls of cold brick that soar sky high. It builds these walls because it wants you to fail. It’s a part of you that’s controlled your actions for so long – it doesn’t want to be defied. Maybe it’s lulled you into a false sense of comfort, but it doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Think about what it’s already taken from you.
So every time you defy your eating disorder, you smash through a wall and destroy a little part of it. Each wall, and especially the time in-between requires immense strength and bravely. Yet rather than feeling these emotions your eating disorder will fool you into sentiments of unworthiness and make you feel like a pathetic loser. The agonising confliction will continue, but don’t be fooled.
But, if you just keep motivated everyday, and pick yourself up if things don’t go to plan, which in my experience they never do, the walls will get easier to smash. They will start to appear less frequently until overtime they almost cease and fade into the background noise.
Please also don’t attempt this marathon and it’s walls on your own. Just like a marathon runner needs training and a coach, you need professional support to help tackle those walls.Recovery is not easy. Everyday you turn up, you’re already worthy of recognition. But I promise you that no matter how high and unbreakable those walls seem, you are stronger and you can fight them! And why do I want you so desperately to keep smashing those walls, because I can honestly sit here on the other side and say that it’s worth it.
Now go smash those walls.