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  • hannahhickinbotham

A Novel Approach to New Year

As I sit and write this at the end of 2022, I begin to think about all the years I've made a commitment to myself that this year will be the year I finally recover. When I've made this commitment before, I've been in a place of quasi-recovery. This has meant I've had a life that is touched, but not encapsulated, by an eating disorder. This meant I could live my life with the eating disorder persisting in the background, making it difficult to stay motivated when I was unable to see how my life would drastically improve because it was so subtle and discrete.

This year, it's different. This year I am encapsulated by the eating disorder. Every element of my life is consumed and overcast by the dread, guilt, and shame that exist with the chronicity of an eating disorder. Whilst this is crippling, it means that it's "easier" this year around to see how my life could be better, but that in no way means that it's going to actually be easier. The issue is, is you can think about how it could be better, but unless you feel it, it's hard to realise the reality.

One thing that I've realised, is that a key element of recovery and staying motivated, is holding onto what recovery is going to bring you. I've always given myself extreme goals that feel unattainable, meaning after a couple of days my plans go straight in the bin. Rather than setting out a map of intentions with resting places to pause, reflect, and reset. Simply saying "I want to recover" but not having an idea of what that will bring you, is an easy way to lose motivation and makes it hard to pursue difficult yet beneficial choices. You need to have your hand on quickly accessible goals, moments, and freedoms that you want to achieve so that when you are struggling to decide between the eating disorder and recovery, you can grasp them quickly and make choices favourable to your better life.

And I think that for me is my biggest challenge. I feel so blind-sighted by the eating disorder that I cannot see 3 steps ahead of myself, let alone the life ahead of me. I can't see how my actions right now are influencing my future, or how the little things that I do (whether that's in line with the eating disorder or my better life) can have such an incredibly large impact.

It's those little moments, those moments before I exercise, before I plate up my meal or before I open the app of doom, those tiny little moments are the ones that matter the most. Pausing, taking a deep breath and knowing that I am stronger than this. That I can do this, that I am brave, powerful, and so truly deserving of a better life.

So, this year, rather than thinking of the big, long-term goals I want to achieve, I'm going to focus on the mundane, everyday activities that are currently consumed by an eating disorder that I want to be unrestrained. Things like free pouring a bowl of cereal, randomly accepting a cookie at work, popping around to a friends for a spontaneous dinner, or relaxing at home with my loved ones rather than going to the gym.

As I sign off this blog, I am going to go away and write down the things I want to achieve. The way I want my life to look. Not one-off events, but the consistent life I want to lead. The things that to everyone else seem boring, but to me will identify a life of freedom, from an eating disorder that has survived for way too long.

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