Note: This post originally appeared on A Journey to Self-Acceptance and has been cross-posted with permission.
Disclaimer: This piece may be triggering to some readers.
I find autumn a particularly challenging time. There, I’ve said it. And I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this will also find it challenging.
For a start, you cannot escape the fact that Christmas is coming. A time largely centred around food and eating with others – something that for the last 5 years I have come to dread. I work in a shop and on the 31st of August this year we had Christmas stock coming out. The seasonal isle is full of tins of chocolate and biscuits – my eating disorders worst nightmare. I spend all day, every day, looking at the Christmas food, wrapping paper and cards, and already have the songs going around in my head. Only in the second week of September I’ve already been asked about working longer hours to accommodate the festive season and business we are expected to see. So, even if I wanted to ignore the fact that Christmas is coming, I can’t – it’s there 24/7.
It’s also a time where it is easier to retreat back into some of my safer, albeit less effective, coping strategies. Go into any clothes shop and the big, cosy, baggy jumpers have made an appearance, the fluffy socks, the long and oversized t-shirts – all the clothes that my eating disorder loves me to wear. When I was at my most ill, I used to live in clothes such as these – to ‘hide the fat’, to keep me warm because I was always freezing, and generally just to try and hide away from the rest of the world. And it’s hard to escape that now because gone are the summer clothes that ‘put me out there’ so to speak, and made me challenge my negative thought patterns and bad body image – now I’m expected to wear the clothes that leave my thoughts stewing and don’t help me to challenge them in any way shape or form.
But it’s also a time to treasure. I love the autumn time. Deep down I do – it will forever be my favourite season. Out can come my most loved Dr Martens boots that have been put away for the summer, my thick scarf that I love to wear. I can go for walks in the lovely autumn air, through the piles of orange and yellow leaves and listen to them crunch under my feet, not to mention the amazing colours that start to appear. The apples start falling from the tree in my garden and I get to pick them and make crumble again. Hot chocolates with cream and sprinkles become far more acceptable than in summer (not that it stops me) and the fire can be lit again to snuggle in front of with family.
And all of this is possible for me because I am trying to actively choose recovery every day. Autumn might be a time I dread, but I know if I retreat back into the grip of anorexia yet again I won’t get to fully enjoy the colours, crumble or hot chocolates. And I won’t get to cherish the time spent with family – so this year, I’m all about making autumn count!