It’s 55 days since last I wrote – and I miss it every day. For me, writing is a cathartic outlet for a chaotic soul. Without the outlet, the chaos rules.
But I haven’t been wasting time. I have – for the most part – been very busy. Editing all sorts of bits and pieces. Writing my memoir (while simultaneously procrastinating).
Friending, gymming, wifeing, daughtering, mothering.
And I’m intimately involved in an amazing women’s fitness programme that – in my rather biased opinion – could change the lives of women all over the world. In association with the programme, we ran a women’s retreat on Maria Island. Wow. What an experience!
Maria Island is a tiny little island off Tasmania at the southernmost end of Australia. There are no cars or shops – just lots of wildlife, majestic landscapes, beautiful beaches, and abandoned settlements. The retreat ran for three nights then my friend and I stayed on an extra two nights – because we’re both in need of self-care and the sun was shining. We were the only tourists on the entire island for 42 hours.
There is something incredibly healing about being so close to nature and having the time and freedom to just explore. I challenge anybody not to be calmed by the beauty of a sunset over the painted cliffs, the vista atop the peaks of Bishop & Clerk, or a baby wombat poking its head out from mum’s pouch for the first time.
We come from nature, we belong in nature.
The retreat was so succesful we hope to run it every year, but regardless of commercial ventures, I’ve found a little parcel of paradise that will forever hold a piece of my heart. Wedge-tailed eagles and sulphur-crested black cockatoos soar the skies. Cape barren geese and native hens call and mate all day long. A whale and a pod of dolphins frolick in the icy waters. While wombats and wallabies with their young tucked in pouches or snuggled by their sides, nibble grass with nary a care in the world. One wombat so carefree he simply strolled up between my legs as I was seated on the grass, prepared to walk straight over the top of me.
I’m not sure what a wombat weighs, but they look like walking fluffy boulders.
My mental health has been problematic since April. I’m not in the dark place I was in some years ago, but the colliding of events in April steered me in the wrong direction. My disordered eating has become increasingly disordered – and my weight reflects this. Consequently depression escalates and unfortunately nothing ever seems to change much with anxiety. I have a lot of habits that need changing – some old and some new – but the desire to change has been pitifully low. Self-harm escalating, suicidal ideation my constant companion.
Am I going backwards? No. I don’t believe so. I believe this is all part of the story of my life. As I mentioned before, recovery is not a destination – it’s merely a road I travel, among many others. As maladaptive, ineffective, poor (choose an adjective) behaviours surface, and old paradigms return, I search for my big girl panties to make the changes I keep telling everyone about. Unfortunately for many of us, making those changes may look easy on the outside, but is far from easy in reality. It’s as logical as asking me not to breathe – ever again.
The five nights on Maria Island gave me a chance to regroup and reignited my passion for writing. I shared snippets of my memoir with the participants – the first non-digital public sharing of my story. I went on to write for many an hour and I’m creeping ever closer to the completion of my magical first draft. We talked about mental health, mindset and goals. Then gut health and the huge impact our microbiome has on short and long term health – physical and psychological.
As a woman with a long history of disordered eating I think it’s safe to say my gut health is probably not flourishing.
A common theme for many women is guilt. Too often we won’t do what is needed to care for ourselves because we’re so busy caring for others. Yet when we don’t care for ourselves we lose the ability to properly care for our nearest and dearest. People I know who are healthy in mind, body and spirit, make time to nurture mind, body and spirit on a regular basis – in whatever form is meaningful to them. Like so many things in life, one size does not fit all.
While my major goal is to finish the first draft of my memoir, there are overarching themes of self-care I need to explore:
Mind: Mindfulness and meditation are incredibly important. I have the means but have chosen not to prioritise. It’s time I set a little alarm on my phone to go off and remind me.
Body: I’ve treated this body with much disdain – starving, binging, purging, and carving it up. For me to stay on the recovery road I need structured eating – just as I did in the clinic. Every day. Despite the loathsome feeling it casts upon me. And I need to not only go to gym each day, but get up and walk every time my bellabeat leaf taps me on the wrist.
Spirit: I suspect I’m no Robinson Crusoe when I confess this is the hardest thing to work on – perhaps because it’s not tangible. Seeking spiritual peace is my biggest goal. Where I’ll find it I have no idea. I’ve had moments where I felt incredibly close to God, and others when he’s completely absent. Inner peace is always accompanied by a deep knowing that things will work out just as they’re meant to. Working on my spiritual recovery is incredibly important as it has a strong correlation with the mind and body.
Maria Island is a spectacular wonder of nature, conducive to healing the mind, body, and spirit. I hope to return to soon.