A carrot on the end of a stick

Photographs by Lizzie @elizabeebeebee

Recovery is a hard journey, that much is clear but how do you hold on to the reasons you’re doing it and manage to get through the dark and difficult times. When I began my recovery journey, I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to be well. I was advised and subsequently talked a lot about ‘giving it a go and deciding at the end whether I wanted to continue to recover or not’. It was something that filled my family with trepidation, would I make the decision to stay well or would I opt for the eating disorder again. I *think* I’m continuing to make that recovery focused choice each day, it’s hard but it is achievable if you break everything into bite-sized (ironic I know) chucks and tackle the little bits as they arise rather than focusing on the end goal all of the time.

Photographs by Lizzie @elizabeebeebee

Something that did help me was thinking about an obtainable goal that I could achieve at the end, post discharge *if* I made the decision to stay well, my carrot on the stick (ironic again I know) was to aim to be able to get back in the saddle and riding again. Animals have always been such a big part of my life, from working in the veterinary work to having a whole heap of lovely pets. Horse riding was an obvious goal, something I adore and have done in the past and something that absolutely requires health, concentration, strength, stamina… all the things that I could gain from a healthy body as opposed to an unhealthy one. Riding is also a time where I’m completely unaware of my body, ok obviously I have to be aware of my position, posture and what my body is doing as opposed to how it feels in an ED way. There’s absolutely no time available to bodycheck or think about what other people may be thinking about my appearance when you’re riding without stirrups and concentrating on where your leg should be to ensure you’re not going to fall off!

When I started as an inpatient on Naomi, I was so physically unwell. My body was exhausted from all of the damage I had done to it over the years of my eating disorder. I was then put on modified bed rest because of the unhealthy relationship I had with activity. When I eventually got to go for my first walk around the grounds with staff, I struggled to keep up and nearly didn’t make it the whole way round. I didn’t really imagine how much different life could be, what it would be like to regain my health and fitness and get back to being able to enjoy activity in a non-driven way. I’m also mindfully running the race for life… insert shameless bid of sponsorship here!

My plans to horse ride really helped my to think about recovery in a more mechanical way. I needed to eat a certain amount to enable my body to repair which would then allow me to ride again. It helped me to have a really SMART goal to work towards.

Photographs by Lizzie @elizabeebeebee

I’m so happy to have been able to go for my second riding lesson today and I’ve actually improved a bit. My body is doing what I want it to, I’m getting stronger in different ways and it’s allowing me to build a bond with a wonderful, if cheeky pony!

So what’s my kind of take home message of today. Think about something you’d like to achieve, it could be something you used to do or something new. Try and think about something that’s achievable, picking running the London Marathon if you’ve never run before might be a little bit of a step too far, but think about something that you could do if you really focused on your recovery. It doesn’t have to be recovery from an eating disorder, it could be any mental health condition that has prevented you from being able to do something that you adore and love in your life. Once you’ve decided on your goal, tell people about it, get excited, get pictures all over the walls and keep that carrot on the stick firmly in your sights so you can grab it when the time is right. And once you reach your goal, mark it and celebrate it, then get working on the next one. Mine is clearly to move up from my 1 foot jumps to something a little bigger or maybe a few in a row!

Please follow me by clicking on the bloglovin button to the right, and feel free to comment and share your carrot or get in touch with me to talk about my blog/ideas/feedback/suggestions.

Stay strong wonderful people xx

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