Hope you all had a great Christmas!
I just wanted to share my thoughts as Christmas can be a challenging time for many people for various reasons. I’m a big fan of Christmas, because it is a time for celebrations, love and fun! But these days, it is also the hardest time of year for me.
To anyone with an eating disorder, getting through this extremely food-centric season can be very stressful. When bulimia came into my life, Christmas became a season of threat, guilt, shame and fear. With all the emphasis on roast dinners, festive drinking and endless sweet treats, a fear of weight gain would torture me for weeks afterwards. I try to remind myself that this is the time of year when it’s ok to overindulge and I have the right to gain weight. But the anxiety sometimes causes me to have panic attacks, tears or total avoidance of food.
The holiday season usually means being out of normal eating and exercise routines and it is very hard to let go of safety behaviours.
Eating disorders are very much control mechanisms. I just want to be in control of everything I eat, and be sure that I’m ‘safe’ to eat an extra portion of roast potatoes. The holiday season usually means being out of normal eating and exercise routines and it is very hard to let go of safety behaviours. The gym being closed for a few days always bothers me. I cope by planning ahead and starting to book sessions for times I know the gym will be open. And I remind myself that it is important to have a break, and our minds and bodies need this time of rest.
It is a real shame when bulimia keeps me from doing things. I struggle to go to Christmas parties and social events, as being around large amounts of food, especially in a buffet situation, can be overwhelming. Eating in front of others can also be difficult; I often find it embarrassing, and worry what others are thinking about me – I imagine they think ‘she should be ashamed, that’s her second helping’ or ‘she’s greedy’. But I will remind myself that I’m making the mistake of ‘mind reading’ and there is no evidence that anyone is thinking such things.
Nine out of ten times, I say yes. And if I need to say no sometimes, that’s ok too.
I am pleased to say that these days, I am much braver and saying yes to more events. It’s always so worth it to make memories with friends and family. But there are still some days where I need to be kinder to myself and unfortunately I missed out on the Bath City Farm celebration this year as the idea of food everywhere scared me too much. Nine out of ten times, I say yes. And if I need to say no sometimes, that’s ok too. Luckily, the team were very understanding.
Sometimes I wish Christmas didn’t exist, and it could be like any day when I would be able to feel safe with what I was eating and take control. But as always, I fight off those voices in my head. This year, I can be proud of how far I’ve come in my recovery journey, although I know I still have quite a way to go. I’m hoping that next year bulimia won’t be present at the dinner table. Along with covid!
I can get back to my routines when I’m ready and exercise because I enjoy it, not because I have to.
If you find the holidays challenging, do whatever you can to make it easier on yourself and make the best of it. Avoidance is not the answer but you can make little changes. This year I requested for less food to be in sight and small portions. And if I miss a few days at the gym, that is ok. I will keep moving, go for walks and enjoy some downtime. The gym isn’t going anywhere, I can get back to my routines when I’m ready and exercise because I enjoy it, not because I have to.
It is good to focus on the things you love about Christmas. I always look forward to the good TV and films, laughing with family and friends, and of course gifts from Santa! So I will pat myself on the back for being another year closer to recovery, put calorie counting aside and allow myself to enjoy Christmas.