How to cope with The New Year (i.e. when literally everybody you know decides to start dieting)

Hello petals. With just over three days left until our Instagram feeds will be full of fireworks and champagne glasses, it’s no secret that 2018 is very fast approaching. The fresh start that a whole new set of 365 days offers is full of hope and positive thoughts, and it’s not a bad thing at all to set goals for the new year. I think most people do, and it’s a nice way to motivate yourself that this next year will be different. However, as January creeps nearer, the Christmas jumpers and baubles are slowly replaced with trainers and detox juices, the slogans dissolving into the hallowed ‘New Year, New Me’. Most people are generally exclaiming how ‘awful’ they feel after all that Christmas food, and how they ‘really must detox their system’.

Before you’ve even had a chance to appreciate your success at Christmas, to fully  experience what your mental health has deprived you of, the shops are bursting with iridescent Lycra and brightly coloured gym wear, and your ears are practically ringing with the words ‘Detox’ and ‘Diet’. Even though, you know, deep down, that the majority of these people, armfuls of yoga mats and low fat protein shakes, will no doubt wear their new sports jacket twice beforehand realising that actually these shakes are disgusting and I’m quite happy the way I am, you still feel it is a necessity to keep up with them. Or, more precisely, your eating disorder does.

Everybody’s doing it, and maybe it doesn’t seem lethal. Just a New Years bid to get a bit ‘healthier’ to exercise ‘a little more’. Or maybe you’re fighting, with every inch of your strength, not to get sucked into this kaleidoscope of weight loss programmes and low-fat alternatives.

The single, most important fact you must remember is this: you are sick. I used to find it so difficult, when my sisters would leave some of their meal, where as that wasn’t allowed for me. I remember my dietician just saying, ‘But they’re not sick. You are.’ It can amplify anorexia’s voice, insisting that you’re greedy and lazy, but part of recovery, I suppose, is fighting through that.

So when you see a band of joggers running past your window this New Year’s Day, and the parasite in your mind is screaming at you to find your trainers and follow them, you have to ignore it. Not because you’re lazy, or greedy, or anything else the thoughts might be stating. But because you are sick, and because you are sick, you are treated differently whether you like it or not. And you have to remember that you need to treat yourself with the same mindframe. To remember you are sick, and not in a healthy place. To allow yourself the time to heal and recover, away from bustling gym classes and early morning runs. To give your body and mind the time and rest it needs to build up its strength, to get better.

And just because you’re sick, doesn’t make you any different as an individual. Your illness is not your identity. But it is, for the time being, a small part of your being that will slowly fade, if you allow it to.

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