And just like that, an overwhelming, indescribable happiness descended on my life. ❤️
Everything has just perfectly fallen into place.
Hand on heart, I genuinely couldn't ask for anything else right now.
I absolutely LOVE my new job. It's better than I ever imagined it could be.
I can finally officially call myself a writer!
It might sound cheesy, but I still have to pinch myself every single morning. I can't believe that I have been lucky enough to get this job.
There are absolutely no words to describe the elation that snowballs when you realise that your hobby and your job title share the same name and the same description.
There's something delicious about finally getting to the place you've been working towards for your entire life.
I still distinctly recall exactly where I was when I first saw the advert for what would become my new job. I was at the train station on my way home from work, and I applied in the same way one might play the lottery. I sent my CV but I never, ever thought I'd be the lucky one. I didn't think I'd even hear back.
I mean yeah, I write, but mostly novels about pixies and blogs about washing my hair in egg yolk... Funnily enough, I didn't think this would meet their criteria for desired experience!
Well, three interviews later, and I was actually chosen for the role.
And then came the extreme worry, which detracted from the initial joy of being offered the job.
Imposter Syndrome took over and I convinced myself that I was going to fail miserably. I've never felt as nervous as I did in the weeks leading up to my start date.
There were times during my four week notice period that I honestly considered pulling the
plug on the entire thing.
Thank God I took the risk. So far, it has proved to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that it has been life changing.
I actually look forward to going to work. It doesn't even feel like work.
Last week, one of my colleagues sent some really lovely feedback off the back of one of my blogs. I actually cried with pride. Like, sat there in my little home office, eating focaccia crisps and loudly weeping to myself (thank Christ for home working... WFH: masking insanity since 2020 🤣).
Writing means so, so much to me. It's been there for me through every single stage of my life, offering an escape from reality when I have needed it the most. It's been my shelter through every storm and has saved me more times than anybody will ever know.
The fact that I finally get to share my writing with a wider audience is incredible. My one aim is to provide anyone who reads my work with the same joy and escape that I was blessed with while conjouring it up.
I have always felt that my purpose in life is to create (and hopefully inspire) - specifically with my writing. This is now my job as well as my purpose, and I can't stop beaming!!!
Working hybrid has also hugely improved my well-being and gifted me with more quality time. I work from home a couple of days a week, meaning I can run either before work or during my lunch hour. I then finish at half four and have the whole evening to myself, which is a novelty I can't see ever wearing off! With my daily run already done, I can get straight on with my own writing.
Having more time outside of work means that I'm able to inject so much more of my own personal happiness into my every day life.
Happiness is... Lazy days under the sun with a good book ❤️
With this new found rapture sweeping me off my feet, my focus on anorexia has dwindled. I've just got too much to look forward to and be grateful for, and punishing my body is no longer high on the agenda. Anorexia withers under the spell of happiness.
I know I still have a long way to go, and this time around I'm not naive enough to think that I've been magically cured - I know anorexia will always be a part of my life. I'm precariously balanced on a tightrope and I could fall at any moment. But for the first time since my relapse four years ago, I feel like I have regained some clarity and control.
It's taken a lot of willpower and courage to get back to a relatively healthy weight.
Sometimes I do walk past the mirror and wince, but most of time, I'm really proud of my new body.
While I'll always be petite, I feel I look like a 29 year old* woman again, rather than a sad, drawn, malnourished child.
(*Desperately clinging onto my 20s! The dreaded 30s incoming in 3 months...!)
I'm a little more muscular now, and it's a huge change from skin and bone, but I'm learning to love it, and all it represents.
Last night, I went to see the Arctic Monkeys in Sheffield.
I wore a new dress and oh my god, I actually looked like I had boobs?! I mean, don't get me wrong - I don't think I'll be appearing on FHM's top 100 list of 'Bustiest Women' anytime soon, but I still felt mint! 💃🏻🤣
My dress fit exactly how it was supposed to, and didn't sag forlornly in all the wrong places.
Alex Turner hasn't called me yet, but I'm sure he's just playing it cool, right...? 😉
I really hate the photo on the left as I look so gaunt and unwell, but I keep it for comparison. The pic on the right is last night after the Arctic Monkeys, sporting my VIP wristband and new chubby face 🤣
Last November, I set myself a target to gain four pounds. I celebrated my halfway point just after Christmas, and although I haven't weighed myself since, I am pretty confident that my goal has been achieved.
I feel a million times healthier. I have so much more energy and this is showing in my running. My results and PBs are just going through the roof. My overall pace is improving all the time, and it feels so effortless.
A strong body is far, far better than a skinny, struggling one.
I'm enjoying food right now, and thrillingly, this is something I recognise from my first recovery.
My anorexia thrives on routine, particularly when it comes to eating. Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I eat the exact same things every single day (usually at the same time, too).
Does it pacify my anorexia? Yes.
Does it get boring? Obvs. There's only so many times a person can pretend to be enthusiastic about falafel salad before they slowly start to go insane.
Straying away from my set meals is triggering for me, but recently, I've succeeded in relaxing this strict oppression.
The glorious weather has meant that Josh and I have been able to sit outside and eat in the evenings, which I believe to be one of life's simplest pleasures. We've made an occasion of it a number of times, and enjoyed various homemade BBQs and even a Mexican night*.
The temporary anxiety of 'going rogue' on my self-set meal plan has been quickly eradicated by the contentment I've felt on those evenings, and the memories we've made.
*Speaking of Mexican night... we've just bought an air fryer (I know, I know - wayyyyy late to the party!), and honestly, I have never known nachos like it. Cool Doritos, salsa, sprinkle of cheddar and a crumble of feta, in the air fryer they go, 5 minutes, you're welcome. GAME. CHANGER.
Mexican night 😍
At the moment, my rule is, if I fancy something, I have it.
Back in college, my guilty pleasure 'meal' was Smiley Face potatoes on a plain bagel, with 'lashings of' butter. Well, I say it was a guilty pleasure - I think it was quite possibly the only thing air-headed 18 year old me knew how to rustle up.
A few days ago, I was just craving this sensational stodgy staple... So at the age of 29, I went into Sainsbury's and I bought a pack of Smiley Face potatoes. And I'm not even ashamed.
(If you've never tried the humble Smiley Face potato bagel before, prepare to be mind blown. Your life will never be the same again, and that's a fact. It's like when I discovered the art of grating Marmite cheese over Marmite-topped crumpets. It's a day I'll never forget x)
Happiness is also a post-race picnic by the lake, with good food and hours of writing ❤️
It's funny, but I can actually pinpoint the exact moment that my anorexia journey started to change this time around.
The first time I went through recovery - back in 2015 - my 'lightbulb' moment occurred a few weeks into my time living in Ibiza. I blog about it a lot.
To recap: I was lying on the floor of my apartment, forcing myself through my ridiculous 100-sit-ups-a-night routine. I'd turned down an evening with my new work friends to put my body under unnecessary pressure. I was isolating myself already, once again allowing anorexia to become my only companion.
I was 21 and living in forgein country on my own. It was an amazing opportunity, and it had come in the nick of time. I was very dangerously underweight and very ill. Deep down, I knew that Ibiza was make or break.
I still don't know what came over me, but I suddenly stopped, mid sit-up. Anorexia screamed in protest. I'd never dared to defy it before, and I shook slightly as I took to my feet and walked out onto the balcony.
The sun was setting over the mass of pine forests. High up on the hill, the lights of the village illuminated the falling dusk. In the distance, the sea blew kisses at the shore, wave after wave. I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to waste this lifeline. I was going to try to get better. And I did. Day by day, with the help of Ibiza, I slowly and quietly made my first recovery.
At the time, you never actually realise that you're in the midst of a defining moment. It's only when you look back that you see the subtle signs of your mindset changing as the magic starts to take hold.
This time around, 'the moment' came back in March, when I spent the day in Barry Island.
I was suffering from a tendon injury and had been unable to run for two weeks. Usually, that would pose as a massive trigger for my anorexia and I'd be tempted to starve myself to compensate for a lack of activity.
As a hugeeeee Gavin & Stacey fan, I literally had the BEST little solo adventure in Barry, limping around all of the filming locations.
As approved by anorexia, I'd planned to buy a salad for my lunch so that I could keep to my eating 'routine.' But after a long walk on the beach, I just couldn't get a chippy out of my head...
I sat on the steps overlooking the shore, tucking into a mammoth portion of chips and peas. It was the best meal I've ever had, and even more so because it wasn't steeped in guilt or self-loathing. It was a meal consumed in triumph. I even washed it down with an ice-cream.
And guess what? Nothing bad happened. I had stepped out of my routine, eaten 'forbidden' food and I wasn't even able to exercise to 'burn it off' - yet, I was absolutely fine. I still had one of the most wonderful days of my life - even more so because I'd had the courage to stand up to my anorexia.
Standing your ground against anorexia is really hard and not to mention bloody scary, but wow it's addictive! It feels like reclaiming your life.
And that's exactly how it feels right now: I feel like I'm getting my life back. I'm tentatively shedding the dead skin of anorexia and blossoming into the person I was before it took hold again. In these moments, you realise just how beautiful life really is.
Welcome back, Cazza B!
As I said in my last blog (about the brilliant Buxton Half Marathon), I'm living out my dream in the form of my new job, I've got the escape of my precious writing, I've got the love of my life (RUNNING!), and I've got my solo travels (next stop, Iceland!).
After a long winter, life finally feels like a firework display of perfection. ❤️
Cara Jasmine Bradley