10 years ago today…

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years…”

We’ve all been asked this, and I bet have also tried to answer it on numerous occasions, but do we truly know what we want 10 years down the line? What about changing circumstances? Experiences? Opportunities? Do we even know what we want right now? Surely this is more important? Like a wise man once told me, living the now creates the future – nothing else does. However cliché this may sound, I hope through this blog and by sharing my experiences, emotions and regret I can spread awareness and understanding for why individuals should strive to focus on themselves right now, and not give in to societal pressures or a need to push for the future…

10 years ago today I was admitted to hospital for anorexia nervosa. I was told this “unwelcomed” stay would be for a maximum of six weeks, it ended up being five months.

Why? How? What?
The fact that being admitted to a mental institute by my doctor, with the agreement of my parents, wasn’t enough to make me “wake up and smell the coffee” (if only!) shows the nature of this destructive, all consuming (excuse the pun), possessive illness. And yes, it is nothing to be proud of. Not only did I waste five whole months and the years around it, but I missed my step-brother’s wedding, saw both Christmas and my 16th Birthday come & go whilst I was in there – rock’n’roll Eloise. What a sadness. What a loss. How I would do anything to have turned those “promised” six weeks into no weeks at all, and wind back the time to make it up to everyone I let down that year and throughout my eating disorder – including myself. Not sure the tears, apologies and hugs will ever come close to making it up.

So, 10 years on and what has changed?
Apart from a few qualifications, driver’s license (no comments please!) and some air miles, I have a bucket load of hindsight, regret, disappointment, guilt, pain and emotion.

I was told when I chose to start the road to recovery sometime on, that recovery is one battle but “it’s about minimising the regret of not recovering sooner.” Then and for the following years whilst learning to live again those words stayed with me, but I didn’t understand their full extent. Only recently, after experiencing everything the anorexia promised me I wouldn’t as “I was invincible,” have I felt them and the true reality of “where the f*** was I?”

Yes, in the last two and a half years I have done everything in my power to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ to leave the past behind me once and for all, get fully healthy and take responsibility.
Yet the wave breaks and flows up the beach – you can’t stop it, you can’t control it. And honestly, I don’t know how big the wave was or still is – but I’m sure I will find out at some point and be left in peace on the beach, with my unicorn towel and a cocktail. But the pain of regret that I set off this tsunami, and tried to surf it out until it broke with all its force, still haunts me. I am responsible – yup, only me – WOW, if I could turn back time…

But I can’t. All I can do is focus on changing the next 10-year story by living now how it needs to be – healthy, free and fun. I made a promise to myself to regret nothing else (think I have enough right now to work on) and not let down those I love or myself any more than I have. Plus, fighting for the awareness that there is no glamour, no fun and no real life with any eating disorder, whether mild disordered eating or lack of self-confidence, to a full-blown eating disorder – f*** that.

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Where am I going with this…
Well, as I am not only an ambassador for the new campaign, TrainBrave, raising awareness for eating-disorders in sport but also as a campaigner for life, I want to help others see and hear they are enough, just as they are. It is ok to stay true to yourself, whatever stage of your life, career, sporting goals you are at. You are not defined by a number on the scale, the followers you have on Instagram or the medals you’ve won. You are defined by YOU. Everything else is just noise, but YOU, the real you, is authentic and true.

Plastered across social media, in magazines, everywhere is the ways we “should” eat, train, live, feel, wash, talk, walk – you name it! But how can anyone, anything or any moment in someone else’s life (yes not yours!) dictate how we feel and progress towards our goals? Yet they do. Isn’t this just ridiculous. Why does it matter if Juliet drinks green smoothies every day at 6am after her HIIT session, before a full day “winning life?” It doesn’t!

You are not weak for craving that ice cream (and then giving into it!), you are not criminal for not living life like Juliet or enjoying chips with all the ketchup every weekend, as hey you heard it here first – that is called normal and that is called life!
Yet, society continues to condition the good and the bad – but who has the right to decide this for us? That is right – only us! Why is actually being unhealthier: mentally, physically and emotionally (yes all of the above), suddenly glorified and socially acceptable? Mind blown if you ask me! I hope if this blog has demonstrated you one thing – it’s that you can’t have one without the other – just like you can’t have pancakes without syrup! FACT.

So as simple as it sounds, and I am the first to admit it’s not easy – please just focus on yourself and focus on what you need right now, not tomorrow or in 10 years time. The story you look back on will be one hell of a page turner if you do!!!

For those of you suffering from an eating disorder, or fighting any battle for freedom, I’ll leave you with this:
Anorexia will think and tell you that the ones who recover, or even think they want to, are the weak ones, the failures. However, I can assure you all that they are anything but. To recover fully and fight for a life with no more rules, your full health and freedom, is the bravest, most courageous & strongest thing you will ever do or face. That is a promise and you can hold me to it right till you see your paradise – life.

Lots of love,

Elo xxx

“Tell me somethin’ girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?” – A Star is Born

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