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In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s been asked to self-isolate. Although I wasn’t going to my partner and treatment team asked me to as a courtesy. To say I’m feeling guilty, trapped and a tad overwhelmed at this whole situation is an understatement. But surely I can’t be the only one feeling this way?
All of us with lowered immune systems, chronic illnesses, etc are paddling up the same river in similar rickety boats. Some of us may have paddles in the form of family and friends while others may not be so lucky.
Isolation, Anorexia Nervosa and COVID-19.
Isolation was and still remains a huge part of my life. Although I now have a job and have made some friends in the local village, I still spend a large portion of my time alone with only my partner and two cats for comfort. But when sh*t really hits the fan I’m usually alone. I tend to curl inward with anger, sadness, and frustration rather than speak to anyone. It’s due to a mixture of embarrassment, pride and the ever-present inner voice that means I prefer to remain quiet than get any proper help. Ultimately the jokes on me and I usually end up hurting myself in some less-than-ideal way.
Illnesses like Anorexia Nervosa thrive in isolation, so you can bet your bottom dollar that she’s loving this.
Prior to my partner being furloughed, I found myself thinking about all the time I’d have to exercise, starve and basically stumble backward completely. Did I want that? No. Would it have happened had Ryan not been off work? Quite likely.
Whether or not I want to recover never seems to be enough. In fact, what ‘Chloe’ wants never really matters at all. Even a year into recovery I still find it very difficult to fight back against the cruel and constant berating of Anorexia.
I’d have tentatively said that recovery was going ‘fine‘ until I started back to work in January. Nothing’s gone wrong per se. The job isn’t overly stressful and my colleagues are brilliant. BUT being on my feet for over eight hours a day has meant my weight has dipped quite rapidly in the last three months. This has, in turn, flicked a switch in my brain, one which I’ve found difficult to flip back off again.
Anorexia is a cruel mistress but sadly she’s my mistress. Even if I don’t want her to be.
How to maintain recovery in COVID-19 uncertainty.
1. Stick to the plan but don’t be afraid to change it up.
There’s no doubt that these are worrying times. My stomach’s been in knots for days now and I know all too well how difficult it can be to stick to the plan, specifically the meal plan. When your head is so full of everything else it can be easy to let our own health lapse. BUT now is arguably the time when we should be looking after our health more than ever.
If you have a set meal plan stick to it as best you can amidst the panic buyers which sadly can take away a lot of our ‘safe foods‘.
If that’s the case for you don’t be afraid to rejig things. I know all too well the panic that sets in when I can’t find my favourite and therefore ‘safe‘ cereal (Lidl Fruit & Fibre if you’re wondering). Instead, I’ve had to make the hard decision to pick up various other boxes including Cocoa Puffs and some granola.
On the subject of rejigging don’t be afraid to change meal times around. Provided you’re getting in your three snacks and three meals a day, who cares if you sleep in until 10.00 am? I certainly don’t and at a time like this, I don’t think your treatment team will care much either. Rest is good for the body, mind and soul.
2. Keep in touch with the outside world.
Isolation can easily lead to an onset of depression and hopelessness, both of which can be debilitating.
It’s important that we remember that we’re not alone in this and that everyone will be feeling the pinch of loneliness, even if they are isolating with loved ones.
The 21st century is a wonderful thing! We can contact our loved ones in pretty much any way possible, from snail-mail to live video chat! Provided your granny knows how, why not give her a Wattsapp video call?
If you want to participate in group video calls the app Houseparty is great for multiple people. You can even play games together such as pictionary!
3. Now is the time to enjoy your hobbies or discover new ones!
Enjoy reading? Pick up a few new books from Amazon for your Kindle. If you’re into painting why not order a few canvases and start your next masterpiece? Now is the time to fall back in love with your hobbies. Who knows, maybe you’ll get crafty and take up crochet or knitting?
4. Practice self-care as much as possible.
Run yourself a bubble bath, place the laptop safely out of harm’s way and hit play on your favourite Netflix show. Hell, pop on a facemask while you’re at it!
Note: If you have any curious felines, kids or partners ensure that you keep the door locked for maximum relaxation! [Unless you want your partner present! There’s no judgment here.]
5. Keep a ‘worry’ journal.
I’ve been journalling using Evernote over the last few days. Instead of worrying about my handwriting or trying to think up a well-structured post, I’ve just been typing all my worries onto a document that no one else will ever see. There’s no pressure to be perfect (although my mind will tell me otherwise).
It’s really helped me unravel some of the bigger issues floating around in my skull such as those which are financial and weight-related.
Dan talked about journaling in his guest post earlier this year! His post also teaches us the importance of learning to spend time with ourselves. If you’re self-isolating alone this is the perfect read for you!
6. Remember your helplines.
Please, please, please remember to reach out for help when you no longer feel that you can cope on your own.
- Samaritans – 116 123 [0330 094 5717 for those in Nothern Ireland].
- Shout – You can text them on 85258.
- Sane Line – 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm – 10:30pm every evening).
- BEAT – 0808 801 0677
- Visit liberomagazine.com/resources for helplines in your area
If you feel unsafe or unable to keep yourself safe please call 999 (or your equivalent) for emergency medical assistance or go to A&E. Even in the current climate, it’s important that we remember that we deserve help just like anyone else. Yes, times are tough for the hospitals but don’t hesitate to call if you genuinely feel you need to.
7. Set up a space for yoga and meditation.
You can’t say you didn’t know this one was coming. I am an avid supporter of all things yoga having discovered it this time just a year ago. It’s been an immense help to my recovery.
If you’re fit and able why not try it for yourself during quarantine? You don’t need any fancy clothes, mats or equipment. It’s suitable for all levels from beginner to expert, and you can find free tutorials online. I personally follow Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for amazing routines to suit every circumstance.
How are you coping with the current COVID-19 crisis? Do you have any of your own routines or tips for coping with the isolation of COVID-19 quarantine?
Remember to follow the recommended guidelines in the fight against COVID-19. If you’re being asked to self-isolate please follow this advice. Practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, stay away from crowds and gatherings of more than two people.
And, above all else, hold on. Things might seem uncertain at the moment but this too shall pass.
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My name is Chloe. I write about eating disorders and mental health (among other topics) over on my blog. I've suffered from anorexia for over 13 years and spent about 7 of those in quasi-recovery. It was only after a recent burnout in December of 2018 that I relapsed and decided, once and for all, to get the help I needed. I believe that each and every sufferer has it inside them to reach that point where food is no longer the enemy, and that full recovery is an obtainable goal.
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.