There were so many times throughout recovery when I thought that I would never fully recover, but now I feel confident enough to say that I am fully recovered. Comparing the way that I feel now, to the way that I did on my 20th birthday, the person writing this is post incomparable. This time a year ago I’d hit rock bottom; not only was I at my lowest weight, but I was at my lowest point mentally. I remember driving home from my birthday meal and I wanted to end it all. I didn’t think that I would be here a year on, a day after my 21st birthday, saying that I feel fully recovered.
The past year has been a complete whirlwind. I’ve challenged all of my fear foods, gained weight, tackled extreme hunger and destroyed all of my disordered thoughts. I’ve made friends that I’ll have for life, shared unforgettable memories with them and returned to college. As a result, I’m happier, healthier and when we’re not living in lockdown, I am generally living my best life.
But as I’ve changed and grown over the past year so have my interests and passions, which is why I have made the decision to take a permanent step back from Instagram and Nourishing Yas as a whole. I wanted to write this post to address the reason why (alongside this explanation on Instagram) I have decided to take a step back and to highlight the top 5 things that recovery has taught me.
If I can do it, then what makes you think that you can’t?
5 Things That Recovery Has Taught Me
1. Your weight, clothes size and body shape don’t matter
I always thought that being smaller would make me happy. That I’d be confident. That it would make boys like me more. That I would have more friends. That it would make me likeable. But I learnt the hard way that none of that is true, it made me the unhappiness that I’d ever been and stripped my life of everything that was really important.
I have gained weight in the past year, my clothes size has changed and so has my body. As a result, I’m the happiest that I have ever been and my life has so much more purpose now than it ever did when I was smaller.
And people don’t love you because you’re a certain weight, or clothes size. People love you for the person that you are on the inside – your personality, kindness, sense of humour and your laugh. Shrinking yourself doesn’t draw attention to those things, it causes them to shrink too.
As I’ve gained weight, I have gained so much life and realised that your weight and appearance are not the most important thing.
2. You will be a lot happier when you recover
This time last year, I was the most depressed that I had ever been. But as I challenged the eating disorder thoughts, ate more and gained weight, my personality, smile, and sense of humour all came back and the happier I became.
I have so many more things in my life now that I didn’t have before I recovered. I’m more confident and so much more content.
3. Your eating disorder doesn’t define you
Anorexia became such a huge part of my life that for a long time, I worried that it would always be part of my identity. Now that I’ve recovered, I feel almost completely detached from my eating disorder. Whilst it’s taught me a lot, in terms of making me more resilient and determined, it doesn’t define who I am anymore. My eating disorder is something which I never plan to return to, and won’t be carrying forward in to my future. I have learnt a lot from the experience, but it doesn’t define who I am as a person.
4. You can achieve anything you want if you fight for it
I thought that I would have to spend the rest of my life fighting my eating disorder, but I have fully recovered. It has been hard and there were testing times throughout the journey, but I’ve come out of it the other side. It’s highlighted to me that I am more determined, motivated and resilient than I ever thought that I could be. If I can achieve this, arguably one of the hardest obstacles that I will ever face, then I believe that I will be able to overcome anything.
5. The only person who can really help you is yourself
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact I believe that it’s one of the bravest things that you can do. But it’s important to remember that whilst therapy can be useful, your therapist can’t do the work for you. You have to do the work for yourself. Recovering from an eating disorder takes actions, not just thoughts.
You’re the only person who can challenge your eating disorder thoughts and perform the opposite actions. I challenged anorexia at every possible opportunity and learnt that when I did feel guilty, it meant that I had annoyed anorexia. I also learnt that it is important not to seek constant reassurance, encouragement or permission from other people to eat. You have to learn to fight your eating disorder on your own, and recover for yourself.
Taking A Step Back
I’m so grateful for all of the support that I’ve had, particularly in the past year. My posts have reached, and been able to help more people than I ever thought would have been possible. However, as I have recovered my interests have changed and recently I have reached a point where I was carrying on posting because it was helping others, not because it’s something that I am passionate about. Being in isolation, where I have more time than ever to dedicate to my blog and Instagram, but spending less time than ever on them and not missing it, has highlighted to me that it’s time for me to take a step back. There’s no denying that the past few years have been tough, but the one good thing that came from it all is that I have been able to help and inspire other people.
The extreme hunger stops, so does the weight gain and most importantly, the disordered thoughts.
I started my blog as a way to help myself – it acted as a form of therapy for me, in the same way that I utilised my recovery journal and attending therapy sessions. But as my blog grew, it became something more and it’s give me so much more than I ever expected. I became registered as a business, worked with some of my favourite brands and made an income – all of which was so unexpected, but I couldn’t be more grateful for.
I have realised that my Instagram account is no longer an accurate representation of who I am or my interests. I know that I could rebrand it however in all honesty, I’m not interested in it enough to make that commitment now. Whilst I have recovered, still being ‘Nourishing Yas’ makes it hard for me to disassociate from my eating disorder. I feel that there is still a pressure to create recipes or recovery related content, which is understable, as it’s the reason why people followed me in the first place. But I can’t keep creating the content that people expect me to when it’s not something that I am passionate about. I’m not interested in food anymore, I’ll basically eat anything and creating recipes is something which I am no longer passionate about. In terms of recovery, I feel as if I have covered all of the topics that I can and have shared as much of my journey and knowledge as is possible in order to help other people. Eventually, I have to stop talking about my eating disorder, and now feels like the right cut off point.
I am so grateful that I started my blog and Instagram account and I don’t take the positives that I have gained from them for granted. It’s taught me about marketing, SEO and so many more skills (even tax returns!) which will continue to be valuable as I move forward in to my degree. My blog has provided me with more than I ever thought it could have and without the knowledge that I have gained, there’s no way that I would have been able to secure a place at uni.
I think that’s it’s only understandable that I don’t want to talk about anorexia forever. At a point where I feel fully recovered, I feel so detached from the thoughts that it actually takes a lot of effort to still talk about it, because I feel as if it’s no longer relevant to my life. I never thought that I would be able to say that I don’t have an active eating disorder, but that’s the point at which I’m at. I don’t want anorexia to become my identity – I know that I’m more than that. I don’t want to always be linked to or have to talk about it for the rest of my life, so I have to take a step back.
I know that I need to put my own mental health first and as hard as it is, move on from Nourishing Yas as a whole. If you’re contemplating recovery, then please do it. And most importantly, put your all in to it, because it doesn’t work if you do it half heartedly. It’s hard, it’s scary and for the first time in years I had to put all of my trust in my body. But the extreme hunger stops, as does the weight gain and most importantly, the disordered thoughts. Your eating disorder will create a million reasons for you not to recover, an excuse to skip another meal or snack, or say that you’ll start ‘tomorrow.’ But tomorrow never comes. Start now. Don’t let your eating disorder take another minute, hour or day from you. I never thought that I would be able to do it and I have. And if I can do it, then what makes you think that you can’t?
Whilst my eating disorder is probably something that I will have to be mindful of throughout life, it’s not a major part of who I am, my thoughts or my day anymore. I don’t restrict my food, or compulsively exercise and I feel confident in my body. Of course I have my own insecurities, and I definitely overshot my set point weight, but returning to it is the only part of the journey that’s really left for me. And that’s not something that I want to force, or rush, because this is a change that I want to last forever.
I am so proud of everything that I achieved surrounding Nourishing Yas and it will remain something which I will be proud of forever. I will never forget the people that have messaged or inspired me, the brands that I have worked with and the friends and memories that I have made. Most of all, I’m so happy that I have been able to have a positive impact on and help some of you. But now feels like the right time to for me to take a step back.
If you’re in the position that I was in a year ago and are contemplating recovery then please go for it, because if I can do it, then what makes you think that you can’t?
Thank you for everything, Yas xxx
You can find me on my personal Instagram: @yasminwakefield.