Author: Eve, 19
About: Eve shares her experience of recovering from an eating disorder in lockdown, as well as her tips if you are struggling with eating problems.
As someone who considers themselves in the latter stages of eating disorder recovery, my heart goes out to anyone struggling with food, exercise or body image right now. At a time when so many elements of our lives feel uncertain, I know it is easy to fall into patterns of control around eating. It might be the excessive time, the lack of routine, or anxieties around being in control, but regardless of what has triggered these patterns and behaviours, your struggles are valid and you deserve help.
The reoccurring narrative from so many people right now seems to be to ‘get fit’ and ‘get healthy’. While I couldn’t advocate for health and happiness more, I can’t help but worry that some of this is a convenient cover for people who are engaging in disordered fitness habits or food consumption.
Your struggles are valid and you deserve help.
My social media feeds suddenly seem full of pictures of ‘clean’ food and workout routines; while this has always been present to a certain extent, it feels like the nature of lockdown means these posts are appearing more frequently with little else in between. I worry that seeing such a concentration of these posts could be toxic for people who are struggling or have struggled in the past.
If this is you, I would suggest trying to make your online environment a safe space - you control your feed, so if you find yourself feeling low or experiencing disordered thought patterns, change what you are seeing.
It's natural for things to feel harder during lockdown
It is a scary time for a lot of people, and during more stressful times there is a tendency to fall into old patterns and routines. For me personally, disordered thoughts and behaviour patterns feel very manageable nowadays, but to say some days of lockdown have been testing is a massive understatement. It has not been easy, and I do worry for those who are in the early stages of recovery or are experiencing relapses, because it can be really hard and there’s no way around that.
Something to remind yourself is that recovery is not linear, so go easy on yourself. Keep striving for recovery but do not let these dips detract from the progress you have made.
Keep striving for recovery but do not let these dips detract from the progress you have made.
Think about your motivation to recover
If you find yourself struggling, try to implement the coping strategies that have helped before. Turning to tried and tested methods shows how much you have learnt; and far from being a step back, it is a demonstration of the wisdom you’ve earned.
For me, if I notice unhealthy patterns or thoughts reoccurring or becoming more frequent, I remind myself of the parts of my life that I fell back in love with when I started to recover. Cooking with friends and family, going out for drinks, long walks; these were the things that brought me a level of happiness that I didn’t know when I was hungry, tired and riddled with anxiety - and they’re parts of my life that I want to keep loving.
For me, if I notice unhealthy patterns or thoughts reoccurring or becoming more frequent, I remind myself of the parts of my life that I fell back in love with when I started to recover.
Reach out for help if you need it
I couldn’t tell you how many conversations I have had over the past few weeks about the ‘inevitable lockdown weight gain’. While I relate to fear of reduced activity, increased consumption of food and the changes that this could have on my body, I know rationally that it just doesn’t matter in the long run.
I don’t think comparisons are helpful, but if you think it would help, try speaking to friends or family you feel comfortable with – many people, even those with no prior disordered thoughts around food or exercise, seem to be feeling some level of anxiety about potential weight gain. This isn’t to minimise how plaguing and all-consuming these thoughts and worries can be but it shows that having these thoughts isn’t an indicator that you are doing ‘badly’ or ‘letting yourself down’ in recovery. It’s just a sign that you (and many others) probably need to be a whole lot kinder to yourself.
Remember that your weight doesn’t equate to your worth.
If you are struggling, please do not let yourself think you aren’t ill enough get help. Restricting your eating may make you feel more in control for a short period of time, but you will never feel fully content. Do not punish yourself for falling back into unhealthy patterns, or on some level wanting to. But please reach out. I know the systems are under a lot of pressure right now but there really is support available, but you do have to reach out for it.
Above all, remember that your weight doesn’t equate to your worth.
More information and advice
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Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
Offers information and support for anybody affected by eating disorders.
Enter your postcode in the HelpFinder to see what eating disorder support is available in your area.
- Opening times:
- 365 days a year - weekdays (9am - 8pm); weekends (4pm - 8pm)
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times: