Life without Anorexia

My motto is
'Dont let the sadness of your past & the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present'

My life at the moment is completely different to how it once was. I spent 5 years sick with anorexia nervosia and depression as well as struggling with self harm and overexercising. I spent 2 years in different treatment centres.
And since 2012 i have been declared healthy from my eating disorder.

I have been blogging for 7 years, and my whole journey is written in my posts. I now represent healthy and happiness. I want to show anyone struggling that it is possible to recover, no matter how hard it may seem.

I now blog about recovery, my life, veganism and positivity!

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section as i am much quicker at answering there, otherwise you can always send an email: lifewithoutanorexia@hotmail.com

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

School before recovery? How to focus on both.

Hi Izzy :) I wondered if perhaps you could give me some advice, I am in my final term of my last year at college while also trying to recover. I cannot however make myself commit 100% to recovery as I feel to do so would interfere with my studying. I am trying to tell myself that health is more important than college but there is a lot of money at stake if I do not make it through this year and this makes me even more reluctant to put myself and my recovery first. I would love to hear your thoughts/advice.x


You have to remember that health comes first - always.  I know how easy it is to priortize school and school work first, thats what i did and eventually i burnt out and ended up with depression. I pushed myself too far and didnt listen to my body or the signals my body sent telling me to slow down and stop. And that lead to 1,5 years of depression and just a downward spiral... and it wasnt worth it... just because i wanted good grades and to be on top. Of course i was back in high school then and school was free, but if there is one thing i regret it is that i pushed myself so hard during those years because my depression ruined alot of things in my life and is something i still regret and wish i hadnt gone through again. 

Your health should come first, but also you need to realise that recovery and health shouldnt be an inconvenience or interference with school work, if anything it should. I.e if you arent fuelling yourself properly, how are you supposed to concentrate properly? If you are out exercising because of an exercise addiction, then how are you supposed to study and face your fear of resting?

By eating and resting and facing fears, that will help you with school work as well. Food is fuel and helps you to concentrate and have more energy and eating enough can help you to sleep better as well.

I dont know if you mean recovery as in inpatient which means you take time off of school? But maybe you can sit down and write a plan for recovery which you can do on your own? Can you eat with friends... maybe have a study group together in the evenings so you can eat dinner together? Set up 3 goals each week which you try to aim for whether its adding extra food, or resting, or saying 3 nice things about yourself everyday? 

You dont need to overwhelm yourself but you have to remember that school will always be there. Of course there is a difference when you have paid for school and when its free, so i do understand that you dont want to "waste" money, but dont think "i cant focus 100% on recovery so i wont focus on it at all", instead realise that recovery from an eating disorder will HELP your school work. 

Think like this... how will you be able to work, how will you be able to function if you cant take care of yourself properly? Or what happens if you burn out completely and end up spending 1-2 years barely able to function just because you stressed yourself out completely the last term of school? Its not worth it in the end.

Maybe you can talk to someone? Does your school offer a counselor or therapist or someone you can turn to for advice? You need to want to recover and realise that life is just easier when you are recovered, even if the recovery process is tough it isnt impossible and life will be alot easier when you feel more balance and healthy!


This might not be the best advice, but i do hope that you can focus on recovery as well as school, it doesnt have to be either or... even if i personally think that sometimes you just need to accept the fact that you need to take time off of school. But i cant say i am the best example of this as i pushed through school regardless of health and missed 2 years of school because i was forced to. But now when i look back on my past i realise that i should have priortized mental health more than i did, because school and work will always be there... and you can make it in life anyway even if you dont finish school, however it can be very hard to make it in life if you are struggling extremely with your health.





10 comments:

  1. I don't know the situation of the person who wrote in, but I know that when one is sick sometimes the mental battle of fighting the disordered thinking can be so all consuming that one *does* have to choose which is more important, fighting that battle, or doing one's work and saving the battle for another day.
    All I can say briefly, on the basis of experience, is that fighting the battle today is the right way to go, and definitely worth it, and if you fight the battle today, you may find tomorrow comes sooner than you looked for. If you keep putting off the battle, then things stack up in really difficult and distressing ways.
    As for the money -- if you are really worried about that and that is not just the illness talking, then can you not intermit? Most educational establishments will facilitate intermission if people need to for health reasons?
    Good luck. There is heaps more I could say about this, and I hope you find your way through, and do not feel alone.

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  2. <3 thank you so much for your answer, Izzy, and also to the reader who left their comment above. I really appreciate your advice so much <3

    I think what makes my decision so difficult is the fact that I have been trying to recover alone and no one in my immediate circle is aware of how much I have been struggling since returning to college. I am not severely underweight and I am not in such a bad state of health that I cannot "function" going on as I am. It is me and only me who is aware of what my eating disorder makes me do. On the outside, people probably just see a girl who is a bit on the thin side - not necessarily a girl with an eating disorder.

    Therefore I guess this is what my eating disorder has been using against me.. there's this little voice which says, "You aren't in such a bad state of health that you can't go on as you are. You're underweight, but not THAT underweight. You have your little habits, but onone can see or is aware of them. You are not recovered, but noone else cares. Why recover now? You need to dedicate 100% to college now for the next few months, for to commit 100% to recovery now will definitely interfere with your studying - think of all the anxiety, how on earth will you be able to focus? Now is NOT the time.."

    And that is the thing. I am so afraid that if I choose to fight the battle now, in the words of the reader above - then this will make all study and work impossible. I think of the anxiety involved, the physical discomfort, the mental and emotional backlash.

    But the points you made, Izzy, are so true and I am definitely going to seriously consider them. It's so tough. I have always been in a believer in the saying your health is your wealth. If someone else was in my shoes I know very well what I would be advising them to put your health first above all!! But when it comes to myself it's a different story of course. Thank you so much to both of you for such amazing advice, I am so grateful! x

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  3. What I did, was to still continue with college but try to relieve the pressure I was putting on myself to get amazing grades. As in before I was putting 100% effort into my studies, which stopped my focus on recovery... but then I managed to find a balance of 50% of each. And I spoke to the college support who basically allowed me to take a day off if I was having a bad spell. So sometimes you have to sacrifice a bit of both, but I find that better than sacrificing all of each. Because if you sacrificed recovery, then you'd have to leave college in the end anyway probably. But if you sacrificed college then it could lead to the problems you said above... but it doesn't have to be a case of "all or nothing", there is a middle ground!

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    1. Thank you so so much for your wonderful advice <3
      Definitely. It is time to completely let go of that perfectionist side of me which wants to do everything perfectly. To realise that getting wonderful grades is nowhere near as important as achieving goals against ED.

      I truly hope I will be able to find this balance of which you speak. I really want to use the week ahead to get into a good, solid routine of sticking to my meal plan - with its scary increases!! - not exercising too much, and doing college work as well to the best of my ability, given the circumstances.

      It really is all about the mindset - I feel so much more positive now, thank you so much for helping me to make the right decision. <3 xxx

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  4. To the original person who asked the question, hey, I hope you're doing well. I just wanted to quickly offer my experience because it sounds like I've been in a very similar situation to you. I, too, am in my last semester at university (yay!) and I also have been struggling with anorexia for quite some time. Throughout my time here I have been underweight, but as you say, not "severely" so (my ED was more extreme at least in terms of weight during high school). I just maintained my health enough to be able to perform well in university, but never really recovered. I was also terrified of beginning recovery without being able to do it "100%" as you say. However, this year I made the decision to work with a therapist and nutritionist and try to recover, while staying in school, and though it has been hard, I'm so happy with the decision.

    I think our idea that we have to do recovery "100% or not at all" is still very ED driven. our EDs put us in an all or nothing mindset that discourages us from recovering because it seems overwhelming. But the thing is, there will always be something in the way that your ED can use to convince you that right now isn't a good time. That it would just be better for you to wait until things are easier. But truthfully, recovery only gets harder the longer you wait.

    I would say that recovering while in school has been challenging, but having an active eating disorder while in school was challenging too. It was causing me distress knowin go was hurting my body the way I was, and occupying my thoughts, making it hard to focus. The way I see it, either decision (to continue with ED behaviors or to seek recovery) is going to distract from school, so we might as well make the decision that benefits our health! There are days where I feel overwhelmed by recovery and have to take an afternoon off work, but more than those days are the days where I feel way more focused and productive than I did when I wasn't eating enough. I know it's hard, I mean it took me until my senior year to make this choice, but I really would encourage you to take the first steps. You don't have to go in 100%, all at once. Just any steps you can take toward recovery are awesome and your body and mind and spirt will benefit wonderfully!

    I admire your bravery in seeking help on this forum, and feel free to ask me any questions about my experience here in the comments as well if that would be helpful!

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    1. <3 thank you so much for sharing your story with me and for giving me such wonderful advice.. it really means so much <3 I am glad to say, having mulled this over the past few days, I have made the conscious decision to put my recovery first. Everything you say is so, so true. You are completely right - it IS Just ED talking, when I hear a voice saying to me that "recovery is just totally impossible when I am in college - I can only commit to ONE". It's true...come the summer, there WILL be another excuse!! The time to recover is now.

      I wish you all the luck in the world - you have shown so much strength and courage and I am sending you my best thoughts and wishes inn your jounrey forwards <3

      Please could I ask you about exercising? Have you cut it out completely or was it never really much of a difficulty for you?:) x

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  5. Thanks so much for the encouraging words. And congratulations on making the decision to start recovery, that's awesome!

    Though I wouldn't recommend it to anyone in recovery, I do exercise, just at a reduced amount. I have worked with my nutritionist and doctor on this, to be sure I am still gaining weight and that all of my vital signs are healthy (no more low blood pressure or low body temp, yay!). I know exercise compulsions and addictions are a challenge with eating disorders, and it's something I'm working on, but I have not quit completely. If I were you I'd talk to a nutritionist, Doctor, or any other support person on campus who has experience working with people with restrictive eating disorders. You've got this!!

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    1. Thank you so, so much again for all your help. <3
      Again, I think our situations are very similar...in my recovery, and my numerous attempts at gaining weight over the years, I never completely gave up exercise..it's such a tricky one, as I love walking and being active in general, but I know deep down that there is sometime a compulsion to do it. It's something that I am hoping to tackle though; I don't want to leave any aspect of recovery untouched.
      My friend advised me to try and reduce it as much as I can and to try and think to myself, when the anxiety and guilt begins to kick in when I choose not to do it, that if I do not give my body every possible chance to recover, I might nause it some irreversible damage and that in later life, I might not be able to do the things that I love and enjoy...so it is worth a fewmonth's sacrifice. <3

      It's a tricky one, but hopefully something that we will both be able to overcome as we become stronger and progress further in our recovery journeys. x

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  6. A gentle, short walk would probably be ok - not an energetic ten mile hike though! I know how you feel, I love walking and haven't given it up completely either - I just go for ashort walk each day and take things steady - no where near the distance I used to do. I like my "space" whilst out walking and find it wonderfully thereapuetic to my whole mood, therefore I have kept it up whilst in recovery - the open space and the fresh air I feel does me more good than harm - that's the way I see it. Have a think and see if you can shorten your walks, maybe go with someone else at first if you are worried you won`t be able to keep to a shortened time/distance.
    Good luck with your recovery xxx

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    1. <3 thank you so, so much for all your wonderful advice, you really have helped me so much. I wish you all the luck in the world in your journey. Stay strong and don't ever give up! xxx

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