Plane sailing

There’s a lot going on in the world right now and I don’t want to in any way belittle that. There are really important things going on with Black Lives Matter, with people showing up to fight the injustices that black people face every day. (The fight is ongoing and shouldn’t stop until we have fought everyday and systemic racism. I’ve included some links at the bottom to places you can go to educate yourself and things you can do). There is a pandemic going on, a pandemic that won’t leave any of our thoughts, a pandemic that has taken so many lives, here in the UK and all over the world. But the latter has meant for many people, that they have started struggling with their eating, relapsed into their eating disorder, that they were struggling already but more so now. So I want to share a little bit of hope, a little journey I have been on, that you can go on too if you’re struggling.

I wrote the following paragraph for my eating disorder nurse and social worker right after I left hospital, after being served every meal, supervised, confined, for 7 months. I wrote about a month after I left because I had gone downhill rapidly after leaving. Here goes…

It’s like I’m flying a plane, but perhaps flying is the wrong word. I feel like I’m descending, and I’m in charge of all these controls, but I have no idea how to use them, and I’m desperate not to crash, but I don’t know how not to. Last time this happened, I had my eyes closed. I pretended that nothing was going wrong, that I was still happily floating along in autopilot like I had been all my life, that my plane wasn’t headed for a crash, so you all stepped in. You picked me up, pushed me out the way and took control. I was no longer flying my own plane because someone was doing it for me. My flight started flying upwards again, but I wasn’t at the controls. No one taught me how to use them, so I guessed, and tried to watch over their shoulders and see what I should be doing, but I didn’t catch very much of it. So I left hospital, and suddenly I was shoved back in the pilot seat, faced with all of these controls and the instruction “Fly”. I’d spent all these months just sat in the background, waiting, and when it came to it, I didn’t know how, and I still don’t. I don’t know how to stop the descent, but I have my eyes open this time. I can see it, and I want to stop it. I just need a co-pilot, or some co-pilots, or some instructions, because I know I can’t do it alone or do the same thing any more. I don’t know what support I should be asking for, or what anyone can do, but I want to be better at this. I want to learn, rather than just keep having to get someone else to do it for me. 

I talked to my nurse about this recently and we talked about where we all are now. We decided I’ve dropped her and my psychiatrist off in the Maldives (or somewhere equally nice to have a holiday) and I’m soaring above. There are days of turbulence, blips, weeks where I’m convinced I’m going to crash again. Sometimes, the world throws in a few new switches, like one walk a day in a pandemic, and it takes a few days or weeks to adjust, to remember that life doesn’t come with a manual but we work it out as we go along. I still have co-pilots, my wonderful friends, family and boyfriend. They don’t take over, they don’t fly the plane for me, but sometimes they remind me where the buttons are, what I did last time to carry me through the turbulence.

What I’m trying to say is, I learnt. I learnt how to fly again, how to fuel my body, how to look after myself, how to eat. I learnt how to love myself for the size and person I am. I learnt that recovery is possible, and even if it looks different for everyone, it looks being at peace for me. What I’m trying to say is, sometimes we all need co-pilots, and that’s okay, but that you will learn, you will grow, you will be able to say “I know how to fly this plane”.

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