As psychiatrists warn of a ‘tsunami’ of eating disorders caused in part by the pandemic, Cara Lisette reflects on what has helped her overcome her experience.
When 30-year-old Cara Lisette relapsed from anorexia in 2019, she felt desperate for the future. She was a teenager when she was first diagnosed with mental illness, causing people to restrict their food intake to a harmful extent. Since then he has relapsed “every two years” and this time, he was convinced that he would never fully recover.
“But a lot of people were telling me, ‘I’ve been there, and even when it looks like it’s going to last forever, it won’t,'” Cara says by phone from her home in Southampton, which she shares with her. her boyfriend Matt, a cat named Panda, and her rabbit, Luna. “I did not believe them. Now I am the one who tells other people that even when it feels like it is impossible to improve, it is not impossible. “
For Cara, the body image issues started in elementary school. “I remember being seven or eight years old and very aware of how much space it took up, comparing myself to other children,” he says. These issues “came under the surface,” but when she went to a much larger high school, Cara found that negative comparisons were happening more and more. “Then my parents separated, which pushed me to the limit.”
After inpatient treatment, during which she took her GCSE exams at the hospital, Cara made a successful recovery, thanks in part to the “absolutely amazing” nurses who cared for her. The experience inspired her to become a mental health nurse for children and young adults, a job she loves. “It is very rewarding, because if you can help people enough in their teens and childhood, you can change the trajectory of their entire life.”
Although Cara does not tell her patients about her own experience, it has given her a poignant understanding of what they are going through. You also help others by sharing your story. In 2013, she began speaking to young people as part of the Time to Change mental health awareness campaign. “Actually, it was easier to talk to a room full of strangers than to talk to friends, because I didn’t have to worry about the judgment of the people I knew. it was unlikely I would ever see him again. “
Speaking in public made Cara feel brave enough to share her experience on social media and on her blog, Corner of Cara. When she relapsed in 2019, she was concerned that people who had followed her for her positive outlook and advice on recovery would tune out. Instead, she felt supported. She refers to a “massive community that appreciates my honesty and was not painting a picture that recovery was really easy.”
“The big picture can be overwhelming. So take things day by day, ”advises Sturgess. Image: Rachel Adams
His pets also helped: Panda the cat is a “mama’s boy” and the fear of having to be away from him in the hospital reinforced his determination to get better.
Since being discharged from outpatient treatment in March this year, Cara has been feeling a bit nervous, but optimistic about the future. “This is the only time that I got to the end of the treatment and I felt like I was ready for it to end.”
This time, more than ever, therapy has helped her address the root causes of her illness, allowing her to recognize how much restricting food has meant to pursue a sense of accomplishment, “especially when I don’t get that from other places in my life. life”.
Now I am the one who tells other people that even when it feels like it is impossible to improve, it is not impossible
Now she is learning to view accomplishments in a more fluid way: “taking pride in good relationships and my career, rather than certificates or awards or losing weight.”
Among the things Cara looks forward to is finishing a college course to qualify as a cognitive behavioral counselor for children and youth. And she’s excited about the publication of her self-help journal for people with eating disorders.
His advice to other people going through similar struggles? “Take things one day at a time. To me, overthinking the future, thinking ‘I need to be recovered for the rest of my life’, that sounds absolutely impossible. The big picture can be overwhelming. So take things one day at a time, or even just one meal at a time. “
Beat offers support and advice for people with eating disorders in the UK. The charity can be contacted on 0808 801 0677 or at www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk
Lead Image: Rachel Adams
Life After: Tragedy, Trauma, and Adversity: Life’s challenges can be immense, but we can also learn from them. Our Life After series takes an in-depth look at how people have adapted and grown from such challenges, and how their experience can inspire others.