As Katie from Wiltshire, UK, so rightly states; ‘recovery’ from any form of psychological distress is never perfect, linear or uncomplicated…
However, we can still have things to be proud of amidst the journey; any achievements help to build confidence and bring us a step closer to transforming our lives.
Here Katie shares how creating her Fight Club pin badges in collaboration with BEAT has given her something to not only be proud of, but has connected her to others who are openly commited to overcoming their own struggles, to show they are not alone…
Recovery is a strange concept when applied to an eating disorder. By definition, recovery means “a return to a normal state of health, mind or strength” but, as I and many like me know, there is likely never going to be a complete abolition of our eating disorder. They are so unhelpfully entwined with our identities, our self-esteem, our subconscious, that to assume they disappear completely is, sadly, just unrealistic.
I say this with a painfully fresh perspective. 7 months ago I was fully “recovered,” yet now I am stuck in a full-blown relapse. It caught me completely off-guard and I still can’t quite get my head around the fact it’s happening. It is the first time I have ever relapsed completely, and I was truly in a place where I believed that anorexia would never affect me again. It was just a painful, sad, distant memory. I am a Mother to 2 young children, and of course Mums don’t get anorexia, it completely undermines a Mother’s inbuilt instinct to put her children first. So when I finally decided to undertake a “healthy eating plan” early in 2018, I never believed that it would escalate into anything more. How wrong I was. Anorexia quickly sunk its claws in, tightened its grip, and took me over.
I am all too conscious that this seems a very negative start to something intended to incite hope, but the point I want to make is that when it comes to recovery, it pays to be realistic. It is seldom perfect, linear and uncomplicated. Allow yourself bad days, weeks even, as long as your resolve is there. Don’t put pressure on yourself to recover perfectly, you know, the way people on Instagram recover, emerging from the dark as a beautiful butterfly and conveniently with the budget for 5 star hotel breaks and Michelin star meals. Recovery is whatever it looks like to you. This could be a night out with the girls without a single care about the sugar in the cocktails, a meal out with your family without the anxiety and forward planning, an ice cream on the beach with your children without worrying about them trying to kiss you with their ice cream-covered mouths.
Remaining hopeful during recovery can be one of the biggest challenges. It is such a gruelling and often lengthy process that remaining optimistic and even remembering the end goal can feel impossible. This is why, straight off the back of watching a harrowing documentary on anorexia, I decided to try and do something to help support anyone suffering. I came up with the idea of designing pin badges – a small, subtle, portable reminder that you’re committed to recovery, and not alone.
I approached the wonderful charity Beat to see if they’d be interested in getting involved and attaching their name to my project. To my wonderment, they responded , and with such enthusiasm that I decided to take the plunge. This was uncharacteristically bold of me, as my self doubt usually results in me ducking out of anything that’s remotely risky or reliant on my success. With the target of getting them ready for EDAW (Eating Disorders Awareness Week) in place, I went about designing them.
My work as an artist is largely influenced by nature, and I knew I wanted the pin badges to stay in keeping with this. I also really enjoy using symbolism, which suited the fact I wanted them to be subtle. I started thinking about the key messages I wanted to convey, not forgetting those supporting us, because they have it hard too. I started with dogwood, which symbolises love undiminished by adversity. This is a nod to the carers, families and friends who have to deal with someone they love trying to self-destruct, often whilst transforming into a completely different person, but being there regardless. Not through force or out of duty, but because they love you so much and are committed to your happiness.
Next I wanted to use a mushroom to symbolise resilience. This one is fairly self-explanatory. It’s no secret that recovering from an eating disorder is exceptionally difficult. If you are attempting to take on an eating disorder, you are already stronger than you think.
Finally, there’s the moth, which symbolises intuition. Our intuition is a powerful and mystical tool that enables us to judge when something just isn’t right. Trust yourself and your intuition in your recovery, harness your own voice to help empower yourself and belittle the eating disorder. If you’re in contact with somebody struggling, and you think something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to confront this, they’ll thank you eventually for finding them out.
Thanks to Beat sharing my badges, and through my own promotion, over 300 fighters have purchased a badge. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the response and every time I send one out, I feel proud of that person for acknowledging the struggle and taking it on. I have one on every one of my coats, and whenever I catch a glimpse of it in a mirror or window I can smile for a second and remember that I’m part of an amazing club of people fighting to make life better.
I will continue to fight and share my journey. I am starting treatment imminently and with the support of my partner pushing through what I hope has been the lowest point of this relapse. I hope to look back on this relapse as a reminder that I need to put myself first sometimes, keep my wits about me, and never underestimate an eating disorder or, more importantly, myself.
If you would like to find me on social media, or purchase a Fight Club pin badge, the links below will get you there!
Love to you all, we can do this together ❤
Well done for #Emerging Proud Katie; we’re with you all the way!
Follow her: @edfightclub on Instagram and Twitter