I have been very quick to write off this year. What a shocker. There is a post going round social media saying that people are soon going to start telling you what they have achieved in 2020 but that simply surviving 2020 is the most important achievement. In essence this is true. I did not spend lockdown learning a new skill, baking banana bread, doing home workouts from YouTube, setting up a new business or learning to speak another language. I felt like I was doing my best just to survive – to get through each day.
My mental health did declined when Covid and lockdown hit. My anorexia thoughts were louder than they have been for years and I found myself returning to eating disorder behaviours that I thought were long gone. It felt like I had taken a massive backward step and that I was freefalling into relapse. It was scary to know that my head had gone – that anorexia had taken a strong hold of my mind again. And a large part of me didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care if I relapsed. In fact, relapsing would be an escape from everything going on in the world. Losing weight would help relieve my crippling anxiety and give me something to focus on that was not the killer pandemic or the lost time.
In years gone by, once I am in that mindset there is no stopping me. Or, more correctly, nothing stopping anorexia. But this time something was different. Although 95% of me was feeling weak to anorexia, there was 5% that was still wanting to fight against it. A small part of me which knew deep down that reverting wholeheartedly to anorexia would not make the situation any better and would not actually, truthfully, make me feel any better.
I had goals and dreams before Covid. Plans for the year, and years ahead. But it all felt ripped away by Covid. So what was the point to recovery if life was going to be awful? But, I started to realise that Covid had not taken away all my goals, dreams and plans – it had just put them on hold. It was temporary. However, if I allowed myself to give in to anorexia, anorexia really would completely destroy all those goals and dreams. They would be gone. Permanently. And, deep down, I didn’t want them to go.
So that 5% of me that was holding on to those hopes and dreams kept me fighting. And the more I fought, the more I wanted to fight. As I kept fighting, I started remembering what I was fighting for. And I could not allow myself to sacrifice it all for anorexia. That’s not to say it was easy, because it wasn’t. Like I said earlier, I felt like I was just about surviving.
But actually, on reflection, it wasn’t just a case of survival. Fighting anorexia when my mind had essentially been taken over by anorexia is not something I have done before. But I did it. That is not just survival. That is strength. And I would argue that actually everyone who feels that they have just survived this year is wrong. The fact that they have survived and got through it shows incredible strength. We haven’t just survived – we have all grown stronger. And when we come out of Covid, we can have the strength to continue – to continue to chase our dreams, to continue with all the plans we put on hold, to continue with life.