Old Habits Die Hard

My heads been all over the place recently-thinking one thing one minute, wanting another thing the next. Well, I suppose this isn’t much different to normal but I have really found it frustrating these past couple of weeks; with thinking that I want something but unable to change my behaviour to achieve it.

I went to the Isle of Wight last week with my parents and it has never felt more stark than when I was there…no matter where I go or what I do, I cannot escape anorexia and the stress and anxiety it causes. I have said it before in a previous blog-you don’t get a holiday from anorexia. The first day in the Isle of Wight was a real struggle; I was feeling incredibly down, burdened by anorexia and its stresses and wished to be at home. But actually, after this initial bad stage, I enjoyed the holiday. All of it. Anorexia tried to ruin it but with the help of my parents we managed to have a good time.

But the Isle of Wight was not the main source of conflict in my mind last week. My frustration has grown with regards to my daily walking. For the past 5 years I have power walked for 50 minutes a day no matter what. Under any circumstances, any conditions…I will always do my walk. Over the past couple of years I have started to do the occasional walk each week with my mum-this is for 55 minutes and at a slower but set pace. I will also do 15 minutes of my own power walk on these days too. I much prefer the walks with my mum than my own 50 minute power walks.

My power walks are a real chore. I have to get up early before work to do most of it, finishing it off in my break at work. I have reached the point now where I think ‘I just don’t want to carry on like this. Having to do this walk every day. I don’t want it to be like this for the rest of my life.’ So last week I discussed with my psychologist (who I see once in a blue moon-the last time I saw her was about 2 months ago) about cutting it down. She suggested reducing it by 5 minutes for 2 weeks and see how I get on. In theory, this seemed like a feasible plan. But the conflict in my mind and the discrepancy between what I think I sometimes want and how I can actually get myself to behave is very prominent.

When it actually came down to reducing my walking by 5 minutes, I thought that I just couldn’t do it. In my mind, I do want to cut it down as I don’t want to live like this forever but I didn’t feel I was actually capable of doing it. My walking holds more significance to me than merely walking and exercise. It gives me a sense of self-worth, that I am pushing my body to do something whereas most people just wouldn’t bother. It proves I can beat laziness and that I am still anorexic. Part of me fears that with reducing my walking I am losing these aspects. So this is probably playing a part in making it more difficult for me to reduce my walking.

Also, whilst a part of me did feel that possibly I might be able to reduce my walking, I didn’t feel it was possible for me to do this without introducing compensatory behaviours. I would find ways to justify my reduced walking-‘I’m going to athletics’ or ‘I’ll have fewer calories’ or ‘I’ll walk round a supermarket.’ I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist these anorexic compensations if I reduced my walking. Cutting my walking down, even just by five minutes, makes me panicky thinking about it. I feel nervous, stressed and scared. I can’t explain how paralysing it feels to want to do something but not be able to control your behaviour in order to do it. Anorexia has complete control over my behaviour when it comes to my walking. I am incapable of doing what my head knows it should and deep down what it wants. Anorexia makes me walk and makes me too terrified to change this.

I discussed with my psychologist how I could cope with the anxiety that reduced walking would cause. She asked me to think of ways I have dealt with anxiety in the past, like when going for an interview or doing an exam. But I explained to her-the anxiety created from circumstances in normal life is not even in the same universe to that caused by anorexia. Anxiety caused by going against anorexia is colossal and like no other. And whilst I manage anorexia in my daily life, doing what I need in order to satisfy it but not letting it take over, I don’t often have to really go against what it wants. Reducing my walking would require me to do so and I’m not sure I am capable of coping with this…I want to, but I feel utterly handicapped.

The saying “old habits die hard” is very true and anorexic habits die even harder. And I know you are probably reading this and getting really fed up with me. I often say in my blogs that part of me wants to recover, that anorexia is the devil and ruining my life so you’re probably thinking that whilst I say all these things, I never actually do anything about it. And I do see where you’re coming from. But as I explained in my very first blog-this blog isn’t going to flower up recovery, make it all about 100% commitment to recovery like many others are. Because I don’t believe this is a true reflection of what ‘recovery’ entails…it certainly isn’t for me. The constant battle in my mind is one of the hardest parts-constantly flicking from feeling one thing to feeling the complete opposite. Thinking ‘shall I try this’, ‘I want to try this’, to feeling ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m too scared’. This is where I am at with my anorexia at the moment and I am sorry if I am not showing you more action against it. It’s not as simple as wanting something so changing your behaviour to achieve it. Anorexia doesn’t work like that and recovery is not that easy. But I am fighting the battle in my head, I am trying desperately to keep nudging my mind along and hopefully, the more I keep fighting, the closer I will get to winning the battle. Don’t give up on me. Recovery form anorexia is like pushing a boulder up a mountain and I am slowly trying to make my way to the top. It is a long process but I will get there.

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