When the going gets tough, the tough get eating. Well, that’s what my friend Laura always told me.
And times are incredibly tough right now. A once-in-a-century pandemic has spread its way across our planet, to which most of the humans on our tiny island have responded in crisis-mode.
Unfortunately, this means they’re panic-buying not only household necessities, but also the most random things (please, tell me why I had to go to 5 shops to get an extension cable?) A major side effect of this chaos is that it’s now near impossible to find healthy, nutritious food.
For the thousands of people who live with an eating disorder – myself included – the pandemic is wreaking havoc with our lives and recoveries. Being unable to buy food is an absolute nightmare – ‘nourish to flourish’ is a lot harder when the only food in the shops seem to be soups and low-calorie items – living off which could lead to a rapid spiral.
Mix this with self-isolation, and chaos and disruption are bound to ensue. For me personally, my eating disorder thrives in isolation. As the loneliness grows, so do my unwanted thoughts. Being alone with these unwanted thoughts can make resisting the urge to engage in disordered behaviour feel almost futile.
We must keep in mind that, despite the fact we aren’t getting our usual exercise and our regular routine has gone out of the window, this is absolutely no reason to punish ourselves, or fall back into unhealthy patterns of behaviour. We have gotten through 100% of our worst days so far, and that’s a pretty good track record for proving we can get through the next few months.
To help make this pandemic as painless as possible, I’d like to share my tips for getting by in the next few months:
- Eat good food – Nourish to flourish, eat it to beat it, etc, etc. You get the gist. Protecting yourself from a virus is hard work and requires energy. Although most of the UK may be on lockdown, we are allowed to shop for necessities. If you can find them, pick up multivitamins and vitamin C. Trust me, your body will thank you. Keep in mind that this is not a meal replacement. You must keep meeting a healthy nutrient and caloric goal. Whilst shopping, ensure you pick up nutrient dense food that you’re comfortable with, as well as treats too – you deserve to have nice things for yourself.
- Stay connected to others – Just because you’re self-isolating, doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. Contact with friends, family and support workers is vital for your mental wellbeing, and a positive mental state is needed to help you stick with your recovery. Text, call and Facetime your loved ones as much as possible (okay, maybe not 1735 times every half an hour, but you get the point). Being alone is sometimes good for your mental health, but loneliness isn’t a positive feeling – so make sure you’re still connected to the world. Social media and online gaming are also ways to stay connected!
- Reach out for support – When you’re struggling, talk to somebody. Whether that’s a support worker, a worker from the Community Mental Health Team, or a friend or family member. Engaging in your support networks is an important part of recovery – even if we can’t go to physical groups or therapy sessions, most community mental health teams have an over-the-phone service so that your support isn’t taken from you. Don’t feel ashamed that you’re struggling when you are in recovery – remember, healing is not linear.
- Practice self-compassion – You are not a burden. You are not a failure. You are a human, who is just trying to get by. You deserve to be nourished, you deserve support and warmth, and you definitely deserve to eat, even if you’re not performing as much activity as you would usually.
Isolation and stress may be key factors in igniting a relapse, but by continuing to reach out for support and by treating yourself in the way you’d treat others, it can be avoided. Take care of yourselves and make sure you do an extra nice thing for yourself every day! Finally – don’t feel bad if you do relapse; you’re only human.
Mia, 23, London
Mental Health Person, Care Leaver, aspiring Mental Health Nurse. I speak about the uncomfortable, and try to smash stigma. Find me on Instagram @wolfmxther
Covid-19 Care Leaver Fund #BecauseWeCare
This is not the time for catchy slogans and memorable images. Care leavers need your help to get through this crisis and they need it now!
“My fears are that I will be on my own with no food and no electricity and can’t afford to feed my cats. As I have depression it will make me feel separated and alone.” – R. 23, care leaver
The current crisis affects us all. Nevertheless, care-experienced young people will disproportionately suffer the consequences of the world fighting the Coronavirus. Many of them have lost their jobs or student bursaries with no recourse to advance payments from public funds, no savings in the bank and no family to support them financially or emotionally.
“For us, where do we turn when we have no money or no money for bills? Organizations are exhausted and have little to nothing to be able to give. Universal Credit is unable to give out advances as you’re still paying off the one you owed from last year not knowing that a crisis was looming.” – T. 21, care leaver
These young people are eager to move forward in life, and in times of crisis, they rely on all of us to support them.
“I’ve struggled with my depression and anxiety for a number of years and it tends to worsen as I feel demotivated or unable to get out and about.” – M. 19, care leaver
Your donation will help them:
- pay their gas, electricity and water bills, helping them not fall into debt;
- cover their broadband and mobile phone bills so that they can stay connected, continue their education and find support;
- help them buy daily essentials from food, to toiletries, to flu medicine, to baby nappies and pet supplies.
Together, we can help care-experienced young people get through this crisis. Thank you for your support today!