The metaphorical fence

I feel like I’m perched on a metaphorical fence – staring down at recovery, staring down at illness, and trying to decide – which way do I go?

While perched on the fence, I can dangle my feet on both sides, but in order to progress one way or the other – for better or for worse – I have to get off the fence, and leave the other option behind.

I am truly blessed to have this option. I really am. There are a great many people who have varying mental health issues, with varying degrees of severity, who are not in a position to fully recover.

I am fortunate in that for me it actually is an option. Not an easy option – but an option none-the-less. I have been through a period of major depression and anxiety, but both are now fairly well managed through a variety of means and circumstances. With a little more work, diligence and acceptance, I can expect to recover and lead a life predominantly free from depression. Anxiety will be something I may have to manage throughout my life – but it is not severe or debilitating and I now at least recognise it for what it is.

My eating disorder is more problematic – more deeply entrenched and more serious. But it too is an option. I can choose recovery. I didn’t choose to be ill, to learn poor coping mechanisms, to bury my emotions, to hate my body, or to have a poor relationship with food. But I can choose to recover.

So why don’t I?

Jumping off that fence into recovery is a BIG leap. And will mean forever walking away from a road that has been incredibly familiar and comfortable.

Having an eating disorder may be as miserable as all hell, but if I hadn’t been getting something out of it, I would never have gone there in the first place. I have gained a lot through my illness…

  • A way to control my weight
  • A means to numb emotion
  • Stress management
  • A chance to “have my cake and eat it too”
  • An identity

A safe, familiar, comforting place that has been my only home for 51 years. Sure – it’s depressing, exhausting, shameful, unhealthy and potentially deadly… But there is a lot to be said for feeling comfort in the familiar.

If I choose to move away from the road to recovery, to jump off my fence and accept a life where I routinely binge, purge and restrict my way through the day, I also need to accept my relationships will become damaged, my health will deteriorate, my emotions will remain numbed, and there is a high risk of me dying prematurely from possible complications. It is highly unlikely this side of the fence will bring me peace and joy and a life filled with purpose and hope. It does seem strangely enticing – but I believe that is because I don’t understand recovery. I have no experience of it.

I have been dabbling in the recovery waters for a couple of years now and feel I have exhausted so many possibilities. I feel I am incredibly resistant to the change – I can’t explain why. Not to you, and not to myself. I have made a financial commitment to an eight-week course commencing next week, and I feel this is one of the last possibilities for exploring recovery. I have a good feeling about it – but there are no guarantees in life.

I do know that everyone else wants me to recover. I’m sure they want me to recover because they believe it is the best thing for me. I know that I want to recover to make other people happy, but that is not enough. Recovery must have intrinsic motivations or it just doesn’t work – believe me I have tried to recover for others. It doesn’t happen…

So here I am – staring down at both sides of the fence. Knowing I have made positive moves in the right direction for recovery- enough that I have reached the crossroads – the metaphorical fence – and now I must decide. I have a choice. I need to make my choice, accept, and stop procrastinating.