I always knew doing a Masters would be hard work, really hard work. And I was right. At the moment, my stress levels are through the roof, with deadlines on top of deadlines, coursework and assessments coming out of my ear-holes, not to mention having to start my dissertation – the biggest stress of it all!
I put my head down and I try to get the work done. It’s tough. Trying to find the time to fit everything in. Not only is it a question of trying to find the time to do the work, but also trying to find the time to manage my mental illness alongside – suffering with anorexia takes up a lot of your time, not just in living with the condition itself and everything it entails but also in trying to manage it. Hours of my day are lost to managing my mental illness – keeping anorexia satisfied but also not letting it take over.
I have managed to see friends on the odd occasion whilst in this juggling act. I don’t want anorexia…or my studies to stop me seeing friends, even if it is now only for a limited time due to coursework demands. In the past, friends have always come second place to anorexia…and also my studies but again, this is something I am trying to balance better. As it stands today (and for the past year or so), I would never sacrifice my friends again for anorexia. It has taken a long time to re-gain the couple of friends that I have and I am not prepared to lose them again. However, at the moment, coursework and assessments are taking priority. When I was completing my degree from 2011-2015, I was not prepared to sacrifice any study time to see anybody (not that I really had anybody to see). And whilst studies are still taking priority, if an opportunity arises to spend a bit of time with friends, I’m trying to make myself take them, not turn them down, because ultimately, friends are more important and what I have wished to have for so long.
|Me with my friend in the nightclub|So I’ll let you know what I’ve done. Firstly, I went out to a nightclub for my friend’s birthday…the first time I’ve been to a nightclub in years! Was I scared and daunted? Very much so. Not just with the prospect of going out to a nightclub, but also with being with her other friends – people I don’t really know. But did I enjoy it? Very much so. To be out, having fun, doing normal things – I’ve missed out on all that. It really hit me that evening how I have virtually lost of all my 20’s. The time when you are meant to be going out and having fun – being young and free – I wasn’t. I was locked up by anorexia (and also locked up by hospitals for several years). And that is a decade of my life I will never get back. And yes, it made me feel sad, very sad…but it made me more determined to not let the next 10 years go by in the same way. Because that can so easily happen. The years tick by and before you know it, you are 10 years older and still living by the rules of anorexia. As terrifying as fighting anorexia and leaving it behind is, the thought of being 40 and still imprisoned by this devil – that’s even scarier. So I resolved to stick to my plan formed nearly a year ago now, that when I finish my Masters I am going to have to tackle recovery head on. No more ifs and buts or waiting for the right moment – I’ve just got to do it.
As well as the nightclub, I have also been out for dinner with 3 of my friends from my course at uni. That too was really nice, the first time we have done anything socially outside of uni. I have also been to a friend from my running group’s birthday party – again, I had a good time, despite not knowing many people. If you had asked me a year ago to go to a party where I wouldn’t know many people, or go out for dinner with people I haven’t known for too long, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I’d of been too scared, too nervous, too fearful of going out of my comfort zone and I would have found excuses not to go. But I’d of missed out – again. And it feels good to go to these things now and not miss out. Ok, there is still a lot I do miss out on but you’ve got to start somewhere right? And it isn’t to say that these things don’t still daunt me – they do. But life has started to get a little bit better since I started taking more opportunities, putting myself out there, sometimes saying no to anorexia.
|Me with my two friends from school|
And last but by no means least – I met up with my friend (who had the birthday party in the nightclub) and my other friend from school who I have lost touch with over the past couple of years – another friendship anorexia got its teeth into. It was so nice to see her again, I just wish I hadn’t let anorexia strip me of such a good friend. But we are back in touch now and I’m determined to keep it that way. I am now in a position where I truly feel and will happily say, that when it comes to friends and friendships – anorexia can bugger off! 10 years ago, anorexia was my best friend. I wanted nothing else in life, nothing else mattered as long as I had my best friend anorexia. Everyone else could bugger off and leave me and anorexia alone. That is how I felt for years. And the outcome of that? Over a decade of misery, isolation, reclusiveness and torture. Hovering on the brink of death. It took me a long time to realise that it wasn’t everyone else that was the enemy, but anorexia itself. Given the chance, anorexia will destroy everything. I am not going to give it that chance again.