I remember when the property agent handed over my keys and left me on my own, for the first time in my new flat. Excitement of adulthood hit, mixed in with a dollop of terror and doubt as to whether I though I could hack all of the responsibility. I wondered what I’d done to deserve this incredible opportunity to make a home for myself. So I upcycled a second-hand chandelier pink, painted up a second-hand table, crocheted bunting for my windows and snuggled into the comfort of my homemade little nest.
There was one thing though – one monster that couldn’t be quite kept out by the pretty bunting. Bulimia and my unpredictable mental health. We’re all guilty of trying to form some sort of fresh start for ourselves. Whether that be, moving things around in our bedroom, going on a diet to meet a certain body, taking on a new job… in the hope that what’s going on inside of us, in the cramped corners and under the floorboards of our minds, will change.
Our minds and our struggles follow us wherever we go. Yes, sometimes this new environment puts off the stuff we want to ignore for a short while in all the hubbub of that change… but thinking patterns that are so ingrained in us, don’t just get wiped out overnight. See, I sat on and squashed with all my might, the possibility of Bulimia following me to my new home. I felt that maybe because I had full control of my home environment, this would divert the control away from my Eating Disorder.
But what I didn’t factor in, was that on the mental health ward I had just been on for 2 months, following being transferred from my last Eating Disorder Unit, in which the recovery program I was giving my all I was told I was no longer able to complete, the binging and purging snuck it’s way in already. An old pattern of mine was becoming ingrained again.
So fast forward a year, I am quite proud that I’ve managed to cling on to living independently for all of that time. But it’s taken a big strain on my finances. If I hadn’t have been so lucky to have supportive parents, I would have been flung out months ago. But it stabs me inside when I owe anyone any money, so this for me, is like dragging a big sack of debt around with me every single day. A weight that’s too heavy to shake off.
Reluctantly, I contacted my landlord last month to explain the situation, but to point out that I’ve loved living in my little den in Cleethorpes. It’s been a beautiful spot to focus on my artwork. I’m in the process of moving back to my mum’s, who I’m lucky has welcomed me back without hesitating. I guess it’s not just financial reasons (the one that has been worrying me most), but physically, how do I know how much longer my body can take this illness? In my worst times, I began binging and purging from the moment I woke up right through to the evening… which then lead to suicidal thoughts, and therefore overdoses. To think again about those moments now, makes me shudder and get sad all at once.
Yes there’s anxieties going back home, that aren’t there when I’m living by myself. But all things aside, this is the logical way to move forward. Financially, physically and mentally. There’s part of me that is persuaded to believe this is a step backwards, but I remind myself that in order to recuperate the things that have been jeopardised by my illness, this is in fact a step forwards.
It also meant that last week a whole 5 days I had without binging and purging, which felt like some kind of miracle.
If something like this happens to you, where it feels like you’re having to undo something that you committed to, or know you wanted to move forward with life, you haven’t failed. Although it doesn’t seem it in that moment, you’re not going backwards – you’re taking the step you need in order to put another foot in front of the other.