By AMANDA DALLIMORE
My long and difficult battle with anorexia and depression almost beat me. At times I thought it had. There were moments where it came dangerously close.
Following my lowest low in late 2011, I checked in to a psychiatric clinic. I couldn’t fight anymore and I had all but given up. You can read my story here – http://www.mamamia.com.au/health-wellbeing/living-with-anorexia/
When I was in the hospital I was really struggling to be open to change and I was basically ‘stuck’ in my illness. I saw no way out and to be honest, I didn’t want to let go of it – it was all I knew and I had let it define me.
One of the therapists gave me an exercise to try and help. He asked me to write a letter to myself a year from then, describing what life was like. I’m no therapist but I think the point was that you could see yourself in a much better place and it would give you something to aim for and work towards. Therapists seem to be big on goal setting.
At the time I thought it was the most ridiculous request ever and that he clearly had no idea what he was doing. I ended up in tears and was unable to write it, I couldn’t see a life any different. I thought I was going to be like that forever. The idea of that terrified me.
Just over a year later I have managed to complete the task and there’s no way I could have ever imagined this is what I’d be writing to myself…
Dear Amanda 2012,
I am so enormously proud of you. You don’t know it yet but you’re about to embark on the biggest and best year of your life. You will live more in the next year than you have in the past 27 combined.
You know how you’re contemplating moving to Melbourne? Well, you did it and you haven’t looked back. It is one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
When you decided to move you also decided that you had to give yourself a chance at being happy and let yourself get better.
Everyone else had shown you how much they loved you and cared for you but ultimately it was up to you to really make those changes and challenge those thoughts.
You probably can’t believe it, because right now you’re sitting in hospital, drowsy from medication, desperately sad, shaking from anxiety and terrified you’re going to be stuck like this forever. You can’t believe it will ever be any different. You’re so scared that you will relapse and end up back here. You won’t. I promise. You are so much braver and stronger than you realise. It will take a little while but eventually you will let go of all the things that are holding you back and set yourself free. This time next year you will see what I mean.
You got yourself an amazing new job. You’re working with a great group of people and having the time of your life. You even introduced ‘Sparkle Day’ to the team – a massive hit I might add, and the perfect excuse to wear your sequined Sass and Bide leggings (SO amazing). Hard to believe I know, because right now some days you don’t even make it to work, it’s all too hard, and when you are there you pretty much keep to yourself and you’re totally unable to focus or concentrate, you just sit there feeling sad and numb.
This next year you’re going to let yourself have fun, and gosh do you have a great time. You spend more time in nightclubs and on dance floors than ever before, you drink more than ever before and you even had a few sneaky dance floor pashes (don’t stress, from memory they looked respectable enough).
For the first time since you were 14 you ate birthday cake on your birthday, my gosh it was delicious, and you broke your life long rule and had a drink on a Monday.You still worry about the calories and the exercise, every day, but you’re not stopping it from letting you live. That bitch in your head is still there but you’re talking back and you’re in control. I don’t know that she’ll ever leave us but she’s not your best friend anymore.
Right now you’re probably reaching for your anxiety pills and starting to freak out, because how could you possibly let go of all your control and behave like this??
You’re thinking the medication has made you relax and you’re going to gain a whole lot of weight because you’ll just start eating everything in site? You’re in panic mode because all this is going to lead to obesity within weeks. You’re wrong. It’s all you, you’re making these decisions and you’re choosing to live. You’re choosing to be happy.
You won’t believe this either but you’re OCD – the rules and regimes, the order, the even numbers, the checking and rechecking, it’s started to fade. Every night since 2004 you’ve done your squats, well guess what, come February you can forget about them. The time you save is incredible! And life is so much easier.
Don’t worry too much though, it’s not complete chaos, your wardrobe is still colour coded, your bath towel will always hang the correct way and the loo paper comes from over the top, not underneath – I mean, if you stopped doing that then you’d know you’d lost the plot. The best bit is, not checking the doormat and not lining everything up perfectly has not resulted in a terrible accident or illness of Dad. At the moment you’re so terrified that if you don’t do something Dad will get hurt or something bad will happen to him, but he’s fine.
Don’t get me wrong, some days it’s bloody hard work. Some days it’s too hard and you have a little cry. But you let it pass and you pick yourself up and the next day you’re back on track. You’re strong and you don’t let the waves drown you, they dump you then you get back up and keep swimming.
Also, you know how lately you drive around without your seatbelt on, because you just don’t care, if something happened it would be an easy way out? Well these days, you don’t dare drive without it, and you won’t do anything else that puts you in harms way either. You have decided you’re going to live until you’re 100. Imagine the party!
Now, I have one last surprise. In a year’s time you’re going to meet someone very special. I don’t want to ruin it, but let’s just say you were right – there is such a thing as love at first sight and Prince Charming does exist. It looks like you’re going to get the happily ever after you’ve always dream of after all…
Lots of love,
Amanda 2013 x
Amanda is a 27 year old Perth girl living in Melbourne, happily.