2018 is very nearly upon us and I have spontaneously decided to write a post on this rather quiet Sunday afternoon. It is of course inevitable when looking online and seeing numerous people discussing their plans for 2018, that you begin to ponder over your own. I am therefore going to share with you my thoughts and feelings about what the new year may hold for me.
Perhaps the biggest event taking place in my life right now: I am going to be taking the next year out of University on health grounds. I previously mentioned in my ‘2017 Reflection‘ post that this was a possibility, and it’s been in the pipeline for some time now. I have also discussed the matter in greater detail in my ‘Deferring your Studies‘ post, which I wrote back in October. So I guess it’s no surprise that it has come to this. However, in recent months there has been a lot of uncertainty over whether it would actually happen or not, but I can finally say that it is, in fact, happening.
This has provoked largely mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s exactly what I was expecting. As discussed in the above posts, I have been struggling with Anorexia and my health throughout my entire time at University. Sooner or later, I was going to have to admit defeat and spend some time focusing solely on recovery, without the added stressors of university.
I am tired of fighting. I am tired of being tired. And so in a way, I welcome the break.
On the other hand, however, I’m terrified. I rely on structure & routine in order to keep my mental health in check. Take this away and I quickly become low, withdrawn and overcome by feelings of worthlessness. If I feel I have no purpose, I begin to question the point in anything at all. University provided me with that sense of purpose, it gave me a role within society. If I’m no longer a student, then what exactly am I?
For some time now, I have been under the illusion that I am ‘in recovery’ – doing just about enough to get by in day-to-day life, but not much more. I had convinced myself that as long as I was functioning (however inefficiently) I was recovering. Everything was fine! Right? Wrong. Because the truth is, I never really let go. Anorexia has remained the one in control of my thoughts, feelings and behaviours for the past few years.
Putting my life on hold for the next year is my chance to give recovery a real go. I am giving up all other focus to dedicate myself entirely to getting better. Whilst this is a good thing (and about bloomin’ time!) it’s also a daunting prospect. Anorexia was never a choice, and it’s not a simple case of flicking a switch to ‘turn it off’. If I could decide to stop struggling, then of course I would – there would be no question.
Recovery is going to take time and commitment. It will involve putting myself in uncomfortable situations, and having to endure a great level of distress. It means I will have to give up the safety and familiarity of being unwell and instead face reality, and learning how to cope with this without resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms. My body, which I have become so used to being frail and weak, will change – and I must be prepared to accept these changes.
In summary, I think it’s fair to say that the next year is going to take everything I’ve got!