Oh sheet

Whether it’s the fresh bed linen waiting to be burrito’d in, a blanket of white snow turning to life’s number 1 rule of what not to eat, or an untouched page of A4 that craves a left-corner sun drawing, can we really ever not feel optimistic about a clean sheet?

Physical clean sheets aside, metaphorically in recent days, I feel like I’ve entered into life’s next blank canvas. Burrito-ing myself in its wrath and stealing the light of the paper-drawn sun for positivity, this clean sheet feels like a good one – and I’m not about to piss all over it with the waste from the prior’s aftermath.

Let me explain…

In the last few months, I unknowingly found myself in the clutches of a previously more prominent eating disorder. Those few months have elapsed in a stream of unconscious behaviours that once again left me a slave to the scales, unable to stop the head noise telling me I didn’t deserve to eat and needed to burn excessive calories to be a certain weight and size. It once again did a fantastic job in being all encompassing and leaving me such little wriggle room to think of anything else – despite the satisfaction that the wriggle room in all my clothes was becoming significantly bigger.

While I found excuses to cancel plans, excuses for my rollercoaster of moods and excuses not to eat, I continued to make excuses for the disorder, claiming other factors were at play and to blame. I was allowing myself once again to become possessed by something that inflicts a dark euphoria, that leaves you feeling anything but euphoric.

But at what cost?

Up until last weekend, I had no intention of letting the disorder go. It’s like trying to walk away from a relationship that you can’t see you’re unhappy in. But in a somewhat flick of a switch, which ironically coincided with an excruciating flick in my knee (an on-going injury I’ve been having for a couple of months) that crippled me for 24-hours, I felt in that moment that I’d hit a somewhat rocky bottom.

After a tsunami of tears, I was abruptly swept ashore by my very own Titanic carrying with it a history of old emotion. But instead of shouting for a fictitious “Wilson” which if my mum had been home, I’d probably have shouted her name instead, I quite frankly asked myself why the f*** am I doing this again.

Eating disorders are so hugely complex and it would be incredulous of me to pass off that a simple “why am I doing this?” is enough to snap you out of an incredibly dark situation. In the stage of my life that I’m in now, that moment acted as an alignment of my current priorities. Being thin, unpredictable, unrecognisable and constantly on edge, unsurprisingly did not make that list.

Causing myself more injury and being unable to run, constricting my happiness and the real me, straining relationships and friendships, draining my health and wellbeing, is ultimately what was happening and if I continued to not recognise that those constitute all of my priorities, then well I’ll just be adding more problems to the list.

Not only has a light felt like it’s suddenly switched off to the habits and mindset of disordered eating, I feel like a light has suddenly been switched on to a new direction of thinking. Rather than just fuel my body with calories for the sake of calories, I have this time taken it upon myself to learn what and how those calories should look, taken into account as much as I can about my physiology – something that as a female I can’t believe I have ignored for as long as I have done.

Limiting intake of food and overloading the body with exercise is enough to cause anyone’s stress levels and hormones to become out of control, but females experience so many additional hormonal changes throughout their monthly cycle as it is, that I feel saddened by the fact I was doing this to myself again and working against my own physiology’s happiness.

While there will be all manner of conflicting pieces of evidence out there to what is right and wrong, as well as the fact that every body is unique, there are very much some core factors as a female that I’m not going to ignore any more.

Tuning into different weeks of my cycle to understand why I feel more energised, more hungry, more emotional, more heavy, more creative, more conversational, more motivated and more satisfied, is helping so much more as a focus to move on from possessive food and exercise behaviours again. It provides me with more explanation as to why things happen the way they do and prevents me from feeling like the failure an eating disorder makes you feel when you eat, don’t lose weight or feel too tired to exercise.

The year 2020 as a whole has been a strain on everyone and while I am sad I allowed myself to fall into an old trap again, it is just one small bump in the road. But it is just another bump in the road to learn and improve from and welcome the next clean sheet.

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