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Forums / Anxiety / Life changes

Topic: Life changes

22 posts, 0 answered
  1. sparrowhawk
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    175 posts
    15 March 2022

    Hi everyone.

    I have recently been diagnosed with anorexia, and am in recovery. I'd say I've had disordered eating for the past two years but only acknowledged it last year.

    As part of my recovery I'm assessing for myself my life circumstances and can see that the current situation I'm living in (a religious community) contributes to the disordered eating. I've been living here for a number of years. Mealtimes are had together, we have a cooking roster so I can't always plan my own foods, and the people I live with often trigger me with comments which are well-intended but not always helpful. There are lots of demands and expectations living this life, I've often fallen short, and at times have been subject to gaslighting and even to bullying - which in part triggered the disordered eating. I don't have a lot of energy at the moment and can't do a lot, and I sense that really leads to some resentment in others. All of this makes me very anxious and reluctant to be around people.

    I have thought a lot about returning home to my parents, who have been very supportive. I feel a lot of calm, peace, excitement and joy at going home and even at starting with nothing - feelings I haven't had in a long time. At the same time, I have a lot of guilt, because my community has given me a lot of support and care and I know they want me to be healthy. I feel sometimes like I "owe" it to them to stay, because of how much they've invested in me, which I know is problematic because that sense of obligation compromises free choice. Leaving would mean leaving literally everything - I would have no job, no money, nothing - but that doesn't really make me scared as much as the thought of being a disappointment.

    I know my recovery could really progress and things might get better, but this whole journey of illness has shown me that perhaps I am really not able to live this life and that it's not suitable for me anymore. There will be challenges everywhere, and I'm really holding on to the peace and joy I feel - but at the same time, I can't shake that sense of guilt. It's making me anxious and I don't want to be. Would love any advice or guidance as to how to make sense of what I'm feeling.


  2. Petal22
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    15 March 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi sparrowhawk,

    That’s wonderful that your in recovery.

    If your going home to your parents brings you joyful feelings then I think you know your answer. ❤️🙏

    Life is too short to feel Iike you have to please others……

  3. Ggrand
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    15 March 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hello Dear sparrowhawk,

    It’s so good to hear that your assessing ways to help your recovery even better..

    You say, you feel a lot of calm, peace, excitement and joy in going home...maybe where your living now, is a nice community to live in, but not a place that you call home...

    I agree with our lovely Petal22..life is to short..to please others....you feel that you owe this community where you’re living now something because they have been their for you..

    I’m wondering if you do move home...and you still feel that you want to give back to the community your living in now...would it be possible for you to volunteer yourself for a weekend every so often?...

    Being back at home, with loving , caring and supportive parents, would be a huge step forwards and a boost upwards for your mental health.... sparrowhawk, first priority is you, your physical and mental health...and doing what’s best for you....follow your heart...

    Talk here anytime you’re feeling up to it.,

    My kindest thoughts with my care dear sparrowhawk,

    Grandy..

  4. sparrowhawk
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    175 posts
    16 March 2022 in reply to Petal22

    Hi Petal,

    Thanks so much. I have been receiving treatment for a while for a GI issue which triggered the anorexia, and never acknowledged the disordered eating to my team. It was just too scary.

    I feel a lot of joy and excitement not just at the prospect of being with my parents, but also in starting fresh. I was actually thinking about it the other day and the word "courageous" suddenly came to my mind. I feel like actually stepping up and doing something for me - not because I want to please people, or because I'm worried what others might think - will be a huge turning point. It's those fears that actually perpetuate my disorder.

  5. sparrowhawk
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    16 March 2022 in reply to Ggrand

    Thank you so much, Grandy!

    I have felt very at home where I am now...but you're right, it's interesting that I didn't call it home. In some ways it has actually become a toxic environment because some of the people I live with and work around actually trigger my disordered eating and behaviours. It's often through no fault of their own and I know my parents may well also trigger me unintentionally, but from how things have been with my parents lately I feel they are much more able to support and be "on my wavelength". My sister even encouraged them to read up on anorexia and she often checks in to see how I am and only invites me to talk about what I feel comfortable.

    I do feel sadness at the prospect of leaving people I love. And I do love the people I live with. But at the same time, there is this strong sense of owing them. When I started living in community I was still studying and they really supported me in finishing my degree. They've supported me when I've needed psychological help and when I needed to be admitted to hospital last year. I worry that leaving will be, in some ways, taking advantage of that support and saying it didn't mean anything. It did, it meant so much, but I know that I can't live my life feeling like I'm in debt to people and that I can't leave a relationship or a situation because of what I've received.

    The most painful part will be leaving people I love and see every day. Your idea of volunteering is a great one and I've thought about offering that. I love graphic design and social media work and have been doing that for my community for a couple of years, so even doing occasional volunteer projects would be great. I don't know if they would accept it, but I feel like it would be a good proposal.

    Thanks again. I feel quite confident and calm in moving forward, but then find myself second-guessing things or questioning how I really feel...but even just looking back over what I have written, that I find this current environment triggering, and more joy and peace in leaving, to be a sign of where my heart is.

  6. Banksy92
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    16 March 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi Sparrowhawk,

    I second the comments made earlier to mine as well. Creating a safe environment is so important for recovery and sustaining your progress long term. With your health and wellbeing at risk, I would encourage you to go home and take a break from the community until you feel ready to reassess.

    If you don't mind me asking, are you under any pressure to stay in this community or are you able to leave quite easily?

  7. sparrowhawk
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    18 March 2022 in reply to Banksy92

    Hi Banksy,

    thanks so much. I don’t mind you asking that at all.

    With this community, we make formal commitments or promises which bind us for a year at a time initially, until we make them for life. I am in the temporary commitment stage, and only made my most recent promises a month ago (on my request). I’ve thought a lot about what was behind that request and whether I was honest with myself. I already knew I was struggling and had been for a while. But I think there was that deep sense I should keep going and even to ‘prove myself’, because so often in this community I’ve felt like such a disappointment.

    There is pressure to stay, but I think it’s mostly coming from me. I’m the youngest by a fair bit. I’ve been told several times that the community has made a lot of allowances in giving me less duties, that if I were healthy I’d be given much more - and that just sends me on a giant guilt trip, like I’m taking advantage or I’m not sick enough to need all this support. The community is small and I tell myself I need to stay to give them numbers. But all of that makes me feel very trapped.

    With my commitment being temporary, leaving is a bit easier but needs to be done formally through the leader of our whole community (we are international). The ones in charge here in Australia said that if I really want to leave, they can’t make me stay, but they just don’t want me to make a decision I’ll regret.

    Sometimes I second guess things, because I do still feel happiness and love around the people in my house. I think if I were really meant to leave, wouldn’t I be really unhappy here? But then I be real with me. Choosing something over another thing doesn’t mean one is good and one is bad. It just means one is better for me. My biggest pain in leaving is that I fear I’ll lose contact with these people I love. I don’t know if they’d want to stay in contact if I left. That brings me a lot of sadness and I don’t really know how to cope with it.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Banksy92
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    23 March 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi Sparrowhawk,

    This sounds like such a complex and difficult decision, one that your heart is deeply connected to and so I think its very understandable that you would feel torn and unsure what to do.

    I will say this: If ever someone or something makes you feel less than or not enough due to your condition, please know this is not true and you deserve much better. We are all doing our absolute best every day with what we have right now.

    I also don't believe you need to feel completely unhappy to leave. The fact you are torn just proves you care deeply and want to honour your commitments with this community. But at the end of the day, choosing your recovery and wellbeing is the ultimate commitment and one you owe to yourself more than any, I would argue.

    In terms of losing touch with people you care about, is there a way you can confide in one or two people and broach the subject? Sharing that you are considering going home to focus on recovery and would love to stay connected in some way as you'd hate to lose them.

    Thinking of you.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Learn to Fly
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    23 March 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi sparrowhawk

    It’s great to see you around.

    I agree with Banksy92 here.

    It’s hard to call it “love” if one way or another someone makes you feel guilty, inadequate, not enough, like you owe them something. What about them? Shouldn’t they be grateful for all the work you have put in and given (as I understood) for free? Shouldn’t they be grateful for you to stay with them sacrificing your personal life, possibly your family life? Social connections work as a two way traffic. One gives to the other in need. And then the roles revert: the other gives back to the one in need. That’s how successful relationships of any kind exist. However, if one side becomes expectant, criticising, using emotional or psychological blackmailing etc, well not much good can come out of it.

    I have no doubts about your feelings of love and gratitude being genuine. And I am sure this is for good reasons. But if your heart tells you or even makes you consider going back to your family, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try. If your feelings about your current place are so mixed up, by leaving them, you might gain some perspective and clarity and decide after some time what to do next.

    Stay safe lovely.

    2 people found this helpful
  10. sparrowhawk
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    175 posts
    30 March 2022 in reply to Banksy92

    Hi Banksy,

    Thanks so much for your response. I have been given a month to focus on my recovery and really consider my decision, before we meet again hopefully in mid-April. It's been good, as I've really been able to rest without needing to meet other obligations of our community life (presence during prayer and meal times, and house responsibilities), but it's also making me feel things are just drawn out. I want to honour what we agreed to, but I also know what I want to ask for.

    To be honest, I have been made to feel those things a lot. Particularly in hearing comments several times like, "You are stressed, well what about us?" And then the strong sense of resentment I feel from them at not being able to do more. Makes me feel like such a burden and so invalidated.

    I think you're right in that I don't need to feel unhappy. I love the people I live with and I love the life and the commitment I made. But I just feel very drawn to choose healing and I know that, for me, it's not going to come here. I was told outright that if I leave I can't come back. After talking to a friend about it, she helped me to see that's a sort of emotional blackmail, which I felt considering the way it was said. But even as I heard that, I didn't feel sad, more of a "well, that's okay".

    The people I would generally confide in about leaving and staying in touch are the people who are triggering a lot of these negative feelings, but I do have a few that I'm more friendly with who I would definitely contact once my leaving is approved. It's quite a relief to know that if I really want to leave, which I do, they can't force me to stay.

    Thanks again, you've helped so much!

  11. sparrowhawk
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    30 March 2022 in reply to Learn to Fly

    Hi there, Learn to Fly!

    Thank you for your response. I totally agree with you. I get that I am young and still learning, I get that they feel the need to "instruct" or "guide" me in certain areas, but sometimes I find myself thinking: would they talk to any other person the way they talk to me? I think they are grateful, and I feel they do want me to stay, but I am acknowledging to myself now that I've just been deeply hurt by these people. I endured years of a very difficult relationship with someone who was in authority over me; isolation from my family; lots of pressures and expectations which were sometimes astronomical; lots of double standards. And still stayed.

    I've accepted now that if I leave I can't come back. I don't feel really any sadness at that anymore - initially I did. I feel like this is a new start and new possibility. My mum is already talking about possible work I could do to help me get on my feet, and that she and my dad are really looking forward to having me home. When I heard that I could cry, because I feel so inadequate and so bad about myself and know my health is a burden. To think they actually want me around is so amazing.

    Stay safe. :)

  12. Banksy92
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    31 March 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi sparrowhawk,

    I just wanted to add that you should be really proud of yourself. Putting your health and wellbeing first is so important and in these circumstances it has taken courage and strength for you to do this. Well done, you are an inspiration.

    I am also thrilled to hear your parents are excited for your return and are discussing ways to help you rebuild your life with them. This is great.

    You mentioned how you're going to miss the community and connections you've established in the community, which is understandable, so I think the next step once you're back home is to start working on building a support network here.

    May I suggest first getting back to the family GP or another one you trust and letting them know where you're at? They may be able to put you in contact with an ED specialist or be a support for your health as you focus on recovery.

    You may also want to look into contacting the Butterfly Foundation - they do brilliant work to support people with ED's: butterfly.org.au

    Of course we are always here for you and your parents sound like a great support too.

    Let us know how you're going when you can. Thinking of you.

  13. sparrowhawk
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    2 April 2022 in reply to Banksy92

    Thank you so much, Banksy!

    Yesterday I bit the bullet and organised a meeting with my community leaders. I was feeling like things were dragging, I knew what I wanted and what I had decided, and just waiting was actually making me feel worse.

    I had the meeting today. I explained to them the reality of my health and the process of my decision-making, and made it clear that my decision was in no way the result of any hard feelings or hurt. Because they have been supportive, so incredibly so, and they are still willing to support me in any way they can. 

    Their response was that I sound very peaceful and joyful, and that a good indicator of my decision-making is that I feel like I am simply called to a different path, not asking to leave based on emotions. There will be a lengthy process ahead, but I will be able to spend a couple of weeks with my family over Easter. I'm so happy about this as I was already so anxious about being around the people in my home.

    I talked to my parents after the meeting and they were both really happy for me. My mum mentioned she really feels that coming home will be a big help. Regarding supports, it's been really amazing as during this time I've reached out to friends a lot more and have found a lot of support.

    Thank you for your suggestions regarding treatments. I am under the care of a dietitian and a psychologist who are leading me through a specific treatment program. My GP has some experience treating people with ED so that is also helpful, and I've contacted the Butterfly Foundation in the past when I've needed support. I so appreciate your care and kindness!

  14. Learn to Fly
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    2 April 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi sparrowhawk,

    Thank you so much for your response. Each time I hear from you you seem to grow and gain more and more strength. Your decision making is improving, believe in your own abilities, gaining perspectives and a very healthy view on certain aspects and people in your life - you are growing so beautifully! I am so proud of the way you think and analyse the things. So mature! Please don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t know things because “you are so young “. Your maturity goes way ahead of you.

    I am so happy to hear your parents are so happy and looking forward to you being safely back home with them. I can almost myself feel their relief! You are doing so well and yes, there is still a lot to go through but you are going to have truly loving people around you to support and help you. I don’t think your health will be a burden to them because you are a very independent person. However, it’s just so good to know that they will be there for you no matter what. You might need this reassurance as we all do. Nothing beats the support and love of the closest family.

    Thinking of you often.

    LtF

  15. Banksy92
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    5 April 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Ah what wonderful news! I think it's fantastic you took things into your own hands and got the ball rolling while you had the motivation and clarity of mind to do so.

    The fact your community leaders were able to recognize this in you, see the logic and thinking behind your decision and not try to influence you to do otherwise is really positive. I'm glad they were respectful towards you and you feel heard. This I hope supports you in the transitionary period while you migrate home and adjust to the new chapter.

    Great to also hear you are getting some time home over Easter and that you have connected with friends and health care professionals to support you in your recovery - well done!

    If you can, keep us in the loop of how you're going as the time approaches and when you move out. Change can be challenging so remember we are here with you every step of the way.

  16. sparrowhawk
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    9 May 2022 in reply to Banksy92

    Thanks so much, Banksy and LtF.

    A lot has happened since I came here, but long story short: went home to my family and stayed with them for two weeks over Easter, which was lovely, but I was very anxious about returning to my community and how long I would need to stay there until I received any confirmation I could leave. I had a couple of anxiety attacks - I think everything was just building up. Then just before I left my family home, I received official confirmation my request had been accepted and I could leave the following Friday! Surreal.

    Most community members were very kind - saying they were sad but also wishing me well. But one person - actually, the person I was closest to and the one I thought would never be so hurtful - has really caused me a lot of pain. She told me that my leaving is giving her more work and inconvenience and kept saying very snarkily, "but YOU don't have to worry about that". And then, "Don't expect me to be nice to you for the next few days. I'm angry with you and upset with you." I know she said that because she cares, but it really hurt. Those next few days, she kept bringing up little points of criticism. And then on Friday when my mum came to pick me up, she remarked to me that this person seemed very hostile and tense - not helping pack the car and not really wanting to say goodbye very warmly.

    I know I just need to get over it, but one of the hardest things about leaving was knowing I wouldn't be connected with this particular person in the same way. Having been hurt by her actually makes it a bit easier to cope with, because I don't really want to see her.

    I've been home with my family just over a week now, and the transition has been very slow and very difficult. There have been days where I've cried. I struggle with really ordinary things, because in the community life was very structured and regimented. I don't yet have a job or any real structure to my week and I'm trying to not let that overwhelm me or make me feel like a failure, because I know the priority is for me to really start recovering from my anorexia. This is part of the reason why I left, and I need to focus on it now.

  17. Banksy92
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    10 May 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi Sparrowhark,

    Thanks for the update, it sounds like a lot has been going on indeed. Congratulations on your exit being approved and for getting through the first part of this transition. I'm sure it was a lot of physical and emotional energy.

    It's good to hear most people were supportive of your decision, but I'm sorry to hear your closest friend was not able to be there for you how you wanted it. Sometimes when people are disappointed or stressed, their way of regaining control can be a little odd, like making people feel guilty or refusing to help. I would assume her behaviour is a reflection of something like this, but it doesn't make it any easier for you to be on the other end of.

    It does sound like you've made such a big change in life and priorities , so I think it's natural for there to be some sort of grieving process as you adapt. Know that it is okay to be sad or unsure of things in the beginning and if you allow yourself the space to feel these feelings and process them it will help.

    How are things going with your ED recovery? Has the stress of everything brought anything up for you in this way? Hoping you've made contact with a GP or specialist to help get things underway.

    Thinking of you, stay strong.

  18. sparrowhawk
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    18 May 2022 in reply to Banksy92

    Hi Banksy,

    Thank you! It's been a full-on time and, as you say, definitely seeing me expend a lot of energy. Unfortunately some matters were not resolved before I left and I will need to go back to sign some documents on Friday. I'm incredibly anxious thinking about that, but at the same time it will be nice to see people again.

    I have thought a lot about how this person reacted; it really did hurt me and that experience is, I think, what's making me more anxious about seeing her again on Friday. We've exchanged short but civil messages since I left but I have tried to maintain a distance as it's been better for me. I really do believe it was just her way of processing things.

    My ED issues have worsened since I have been home, partly because I have been going through that grief. I do have a wonderful team supporting me but there have been continued hurdles. I found out yesterday I have osteoporosis, which makes me very sad and just increases my anxiety too.

    Thanks again for being so supportive. It's meant a lot on the journey.

  19. Learn to Fly
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    25 May 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi sparrowhawk,

    It's really great to hear you are back home, however, I understand that the transition has been hard for you and it might take some time before you get used to your new life. Would talking to your family help? Meaning, that maybe all of you could come up with a more structured day-to-day life for you, with some responsibilities, and regular tasks, just to give you this new routine and rhythm and help with the transition. I hope you don't mind me asking but do you have to find a job soon? You have been through a lot, your family seems to be very understanding and supportive. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to take it slowly and be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to adjust, heal, and get stronger. You might be still looking for a job but without this extra pressure, which hopefully would take this extra unnecessary addition to your anxiety. What do you think?

  20. sparrowhawk
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    26 May 2022 in reply to Learn to Fly

    Hi there friend,

    Thank you so much for your continued kindness.

    I am feeling more and more like I'm just not motivated to recover at all. Like it would be much easier to just not do anything, and much better if I just wasn't around anymore. It's not so much an active ideation as a general emotional fatigue and a bit of depression - my doctor has prescribed me antidepressants and I hope they help. The only things really bringing me any reason to get better is that my family won't be worried anymore, and that I'll be able to see my sister get married and my brother and his wife have their baby. I'm finding I don't really see my quality of life or good health as much of a reason to get better, but in reality I know I need to put those things higher up my list.

    My family has been incredibly supportive in encouraging me to talk about things, but they keep telling me just to rest and while I know I need to do that, I also struggle not being busy and not feeling like I have a rhythm. I did pick up a couple of freelance writing jobs this week which I think will help give me some structure.

    It's interesting about the job. I have felt very anxious about finances and about not being able to sustain myself, and very motivated to feel (and look) productive and like I'm contributing to the world. So I've been pushing myself to apply for so many jobs, but perhaps at the same time not being realistic about how ready I am to work. I don't want to get a job and be unable to fulfil the hours or responsibilities because I'm too sick or tired. When my dietitian questioned whether I have the energy for work, I said yes, but I think really I was *wishing* I had the energy. I was talking with my sister about it yesterday and she made great points - I wouldn't be able to do a 9-5, and I still struggle with eating with others so anything with common meals or social gatherings would be very stressful.

    I know you are right. I need to take it slowly and give myself time to get stronger. Thanks again.

  21. Sophie_M
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    26 May 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk
    Dear sparrowhawk,

    We have heard it said that truly knowing yourself is the best knowledge you can have. We are pleased to read that you are learning yourself.

    It is often helpful for our recovering when we do some things, so it is good to listen to your body and let it help you know how much you can do at any time.

    We would like to encourage you to consider that there are many job possibilities which are not 9-to-5.

    What type of work would you enjoy?

    What work would engage you in your healing process rather than sapping your strength?

    Warm regards,

    Sophie M.
     
  22. Banksy92
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    26 May 2022 in reply to sparrowhawk

    Hi sparrowhawk,

    How did you go returning to the community to sign the papers? I think it's understandable if you were feeling a bit anxious, particularly if you were unhappy with how your friend treated you. I hope everything went smoothly and you felt okay.

    I'm sorry to hear about your osteoporosis diagnosis, are you in much pain or discomfort from this? I hope your medical professional has given you some helpful advice on how to manage the symptoms. I can imagine this news would be quite upsetting but please remember that you are in good care and have the support around you while you are on your journey to a stronger and healthier you.

    I saw your other comment about feeling low and struggling with fatigue too, which given everything you have been through is also understandable. How are you going so far on the medication? These things can take a few weeks to kick in but I hope it takes the edge off for you soon. Please know even in the days you feel like throwing it all in, we are all wishing the absolute best for you and care for your well being. So are your family and friends. And while I know first hand how difficult it can be to push past these moments and get through another day, sometimes the external stuff (like family weddings or babies on the way) are worth holding on to while we rebuild our inner strength and find our own internal spark again. It will come, if you can hold on and keep taking small steps in the right direction.

    Thinking of you.

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