Yesterday we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Our wedding was a magical day but, in the two years since we got engaged, life has taken some unexpected turns.
My mental and physical health has taken quite a bashing. I’m not fully recovered – and I’m working hard to challenge and change thought patterns and reactions that have been deeply ingrained for many years. But I’m gaining more perspective with each month that takes me further from the trickiest of times.
So what would I tell the Clare who said ‘yes’ under that tree on Hampstead Heath in 2015.
You can’t control a wedding diet – change the dress, not yourself
I thought I would be able to diet just enough to feel comfortable in a gently corseted dress – and then stop afterwards. But my disordered eating lurked much closer below the surface than I realised. It wasn’t long before my eating, exercise and emotions got horribly tangled. I thought I would never go back there but I slid into militant calorie counting, restriction and purging through exercise with the excuse that it was ‘just for the wedding’. The dress was too big, I spent our honeymoon struggling to find a manageable balance and it took my periods stopping to shock me into making a change.
You need medication – and that’s fine
“You were so proud of yourself,” my mother in law said. And I was. I had been fighting my medication for years, trying to cut down and come off. Stopping was the hardest thing I’d ever done.
And when I finally fought through the initial withdrawal symptoms I thought things would get easier. Instead they got harder. More chest pain. More tears, panic and anger. Suicidal thoughts. More running. More fighting my body. It took three months to realise I couldn’t do it. That nothing was worth the destruction those months had wreaked on my body, our health and our relationship.