What is it like recovering from an eating disorder during lockdown

The uncertainty during the current UK lockdown can cause many people to feel worried and anxious.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 3:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 3:19 pm
Hope Virgo

For those in recovery from an eating disorder it can be even more unsettling.

Hope Virgo is the author of Stand Tall Little Girl and a mental health campaigner, she is in recovery.

She said: “Lockdown has taken away my sense of control and left me sitting with a lot of feelings and emotions.

“I think for so many of us we have these feelings that we try and manage and then with life stopping and being forced to stop we have to deal with things that we may have not managed to before.

“I am certainly getting used to this but I have to be mindful of what is going on in my brain and if situations maybe triggering me.

“Having support in place is vital at the moment to make sure that we are managing ourselves.”

One key aspect for those that have had an eating disorder is meal planning, which during the recent panic buying meant many shops had run out of items.

Hope said: “Panic buying can vary widely depending on how someone’s eating disorder manifests itself.

“Some people might use the empty shelves and an inability to buy safe foods as a reason for restricting their diet again, while stockpiling can result in others being increasingly tempted to binge and purge because there is so much food in the house.

“What I have seen is that people who are struggling with this are finding it hard to talk about it, feeling so stuck and isolated. People feel guilty admitting they are struggling when this is being talked about because they are afraid of what people will think of them when there is a pandemic going on.

“For me I would normally be okay having different foods but combining this whole situation, the turmoil and uncertainty, it meant that when the stockpiling began and I couldn’t find the bread I normally ate I panicked.

“I was later able to find this bread and find a way to manage it, but for so many they can’t do this, For so many they are unable to get their safe foods so they choose not to eat.”

For someone with an eating disorder Hope explains that food takes over your mind and you spend hours planning how to miss meals or when to exercise.

She added: “When you start to recover the eating disorder ridicules you. It makes you feel guilty and like a failure and makes your whole body image become distorted. It is the constant battle in your head. It is emotionally and physically exhausting.”

Hope’s advice is that if you are struggling, reach out for support as your feelings are valid.

“Please know recovery is possible and it can be really amazing.

”It is hard but it is worth it.

“If you find it hard to talk why don’t you write down how you are feeling on a day to day basis and share it with those around you. Great support can be found on the Mix, Hub of Hope or Samaritans.

She added: “Remember eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Just because you can’t see someone is struggling doesn’t mean they aren’t.”

Here are the tools Hope uses to help her cope:

- Created a routine for the day

- Went to the shops and got some food I like

- Firmed up my support network

- Focused on my motivation for staying well

- Find a positive in every day

- Be thankful for something every morning!

For more help, visit:

The Mix - www.themix.org.ukHub of Hope - hubofhope.co.ukSamaritans - samaritans.org

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