Five days a week for pretty much every week of the past 2 years and 4 months I have gone to work. I have spent more time at work than I have anywhere else and I have spent more time with the people there than I have anyone else. But on Friday 14th July 2017 it came to an end. I said goodbye to Tiptree and shut the door behind me.
This is a very scary prospect, making a major change in my life…and I am someone who doesn’t deal with change well. Working at the tearoom has been my life for over two years and to now step well out of my comfort zone, leave it behind and enter a new unnerving world is a daunting prospect. I am riddled with fear and anxiety, scared of the change, scared of leaving what I know behind, scared of entering the unknown. Have I made the right decision? Am I better off staying where I am with what I know? Am I capable of doing a Masters…do I even want to do one? These thoughts are continuously racing around my mind. But working in the tearoom isn’t what I truly want for the rest of my life…its safe and its familiar…but I don’t think it is what I want. This isn’t to say the job hasn’t been good for me…it has. It has helped me progress in ways I never thought possible. And I will be eternally grateful to it and the people there.
Before I started the job, I was all consumed by anorexia. I was securely locked inside my anorexic prison cell, engulfed by darkness with there seeming no light or no escape. Yes, I had been back to university and finished my degree but I had done so without talking to a single person there (and I was there for three and half years), I was still terrified of social situations and I was still having to obey my strict, regimental anorexic routine.
All my waking thoughts were focused on weight, calories and exercise. I was still maintaining my weight…I was a functioning anorexic. But whilst I functioned, I was consumed with the thoughts, battles and worries in my mind. I was living in torture. I was locked in this cell with my mind tortured by anorexia.
I was desperate to have a job in a tearoom and after many failed job applications and interviews, I finally got the job where I have been for the past 2 and a bit years. You don’t notice change much when it happens gradually over time but comparing myself now to how I was then, I can’t quite believe what a difference it is.
My job gave me a focus, something else to think about. I could be there sometimes for over 9 hours a day and in that time anorexia would not get a look in. My every second thoughts of weight, calories and exercise were pushed to the back of my mind and it felt incredible to be liberated from this…to have that time in my day when I was at work and I didn’t have to think about anorexia. I was wracked with guilt for this at first when I had a day off or got home from work. “How dare I not think about anorexia all the time?” My head would shout at me. But overtime this eased. And it has actually become normal to not think about it that much. Most of the time now it doesn’t get much thought. The job has helped me to think about other things, to make anorexic thoughts quieter. Yes, never a day goes by when I don’t have anorexic thoughts shout at me, but they are more independent, sporadic bursts rather than a continuous barrage all of the time.
With my job, I have also stopped weighing myself in-between seeing my nurse. Previously, I was weighing myself every day, obsessed with the numbers and utterly distressed at any slight fluctuation up. But my job made me too busy, made me want to think about other things and made me want to start living life and unlocking the prison cell. And now I only get weighed once every 2 weeks, and yes, I still hate it if it goes up. I have gained approximately 3kg since I started work. This has been unintentional and I have been very distressed when I have hit new high numbers, often arriving at work in floods of tears. But it seems to have settled and I have had to come to accept this new higher weight. It has been very difficult but ultimately, I knew I prefer my life as it has come to be-with going to work, going out and talking to people, starting to socialise and make friends, having time when I wasn’t engulfed by anorexia. And if this meant I had to stay this little bit heavier then I would rather do so than lose a bit of weight and lose everything I had started to get in my life.
The other major impact the job has had on me has been socially. Previously unable and terrified to talk to people, I now chat and have conversations with people at ease, talk about everything and anything with the people at work and my old friends that I had lost touch with, go out for the day, go out for meals. I am still not as social and chatty as I want to be but I have come such a long way from where I was.
So saying goodbye to the job and all the lovely people there has been very difficult. I am terrified of the future and leaving behind what I know and what has helped me so much. My life is so much better now to what it was. It is still a long way from where it needs to be but the key to my anorexic prison cell has definitely started turning and I am rolling the dice in my game of Monopoly waiting for the double to break me free from jail. And with saying goodbye to Tiptree? Maybe I have to shut this door to open the next.