I have probably said this a million times to anyone and everyone who will listen to me. I am a creature of routine and habit.
I go to the same exercise classes every week at my University, and when I do mix it up it has to be on alternating weeks; I eat mostly the same foods and have the same morning routine every day when I leave my bed; and most importantly, I plan every single moment of every single day so that I can’t procrastinate and not get my work done.
You could look at it as if I’m a weirdo. I see it as being super organised.
The only thing is, I feel horrible and uncomfortable if even the slightest issue gets in my way and I end up not being able to do what I’ve planned, when I’ve planned it for.
The most recent thing I can think of, happened at the beginning of this month. I had spotted cheap flights to Dublin and a hostel stay last month online and had decided it would be a perfect way to begin the year… I bought the tickets and made sure everything was in place for my best friends and I to go on a short break the weekend before University started.
Throughout exam period and Christmas, when work was ridiculously busy and I didn’t have a moment to myself let alone spend time with anyone else, this trip was getting me through it. I was 100% looking forward to spending three days with no stress and no worries, with two people that make me forget anything that’s troubling me and make me giggle like a little girl all the time.
Then the Monday before our departure came and the feelings started to twist themselves in the wrong way. Thoughts such as you won’t have a kitchen to prepare your own food ; how are you going to stay in shape if you take a day off exercise? ; is it possible to incorporate a run into this holiday? ; your friends didn’t even want to come on this holiday with you, you forced them, invaded my brain and it eventually became like a grungy marshland of negativity in my mind. Which is so hard to explain…after all, I had been the one to book the holiday, and I had been the one to think it was an amazing idea at the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love going on holiday, but this is the debilitating thing about suffering from anxiety and an eating disorder. Though my ED is almost under control and I am able to slowly start getting better, the anxious thoughts and spiralling negativity remains an issue that is hard to overcome.
Right up until the night before, I was stressing about having to get some exercise into my day before our departure, and how I had to keep my calorie count low in order to justify not doing any exercise on the day sandwiched in between our arrival in Dublin and our return to Scotland. There was no way I could plan any of my meals, no way that I could control the little, minuscule things that I usually have total authority over in my life. Mental, right?
A long story short, I tried. I really did. But after every single meal I had to go to the bathroom and talk myself out of doing something that would mean regression, or bursting into tears from the frustration. Only people who have themselves been in this situation can understand just how terrible it feels. I wanted to enjoy myself, but the feeling of enjoyment and happiness is so quickly replaced by guilt and self loathing and it’s difficult to pinpoint just where that comes from.
As the hours went on though, I told myself that we were only in Dublin for a couple of days, and anything I needed to worry about I could do when I got home. I did not want to allow my brain to destroy my holiday and my experience. I plastered a smile on my face, and did my best to just embrace everything that happened.
I refuse to let the negative thoughts that invaded me while I was trying to relax dictate my memories of the holiday, because at the end of the day, I got to stay at a brilliant hostel – which had a hammock room, of all things! – with my amazing friends, and make memories we’ll talk about forever…
Like the weird guy from Manchester that threw – yes he threw- his pint of Guinness over me, and claimed he was pushed into me. We went to the Guinness factory and also to the biggest gay club in Europe, which was a completely new experience for me, as well as a place where I was able to witness some questionable dancing.
We came home bankrupt, and broken (from the alcohol), but we started our year off with a holiday we deserved. And being able to spend time with people I love is absolutely priceless, as far as I’m concerned.