I've just got back from a work trip to Ibiza, and I can honestly say that I have never laughed so much in my life! I can't explain how grateful I am for the past few days, the people I shared them with, and for Ibiza. ❣️
I'm making steady progress in my anorexia recovery but of course, some days and situations present as more of a test than others. When I feel overwhelmed or out of my comfort zone, I try to cling on to something I can control, and sadly, that usually comes in the form of restricting my food and over-exercising.
I was SO nervous during the lead up to Ibiza.
How was I going to cope for 4 days without my strict eating/ exercising routine?
How was I going to conquer my anxieties of eating around other people?
How was I going to successfully disguise my meal-time concerns and rituals in-front of my colleagues?
How was I going to handle the shame of eating something outside of my rigid meal plan?
As well as my usual fears surrounding eating, there was also the added pressure of being an introvert, with a general dislike of socialising.
The day before we flew out, I got myself so worked up that I was genuinely praying for a positive Covid test or something.
Just six months ago, I would have caved to the demands of anorexia and found a way to worm myself out of the holiday. Sometimes, the voice of anorexia is so intense that even attempting to brave it feels like a worthless effort.
I've lost count of the amount of moments I have missed out on because of this illness, but I was determined not to let my trip to Ibiza be one of them.
Was standing up to anorexia and flying out to Ibiza worth it? Always. But, especially this time. I will forever decorate my mind with the memories of the past few days.
Back to the island! IBZ, it's good to be home. 🥰
Ibiza is an exceptionally special place to me.
As many people know, I kickstarted my first anorexia recovery while working in Ibiza as a holiday rep back in 2015.
I strongly believe that Ibiza saved my life from anorexia the first time around. Had I not moved to the island when I did, I really don't think I'd be here now, so severe was the state I was in. It was my last chance to reclaim my life.
So far removed from the environment that was crushing me, my summer in Ibiza gave me the kiss of life. Slowly but surely, I was coaxed back into myself, and as I gained strength, the voice of anorexia grew weaker as the season wore on. By the time I returned home, I was a totally different person to the one who had tentatively boarded the plane four months prior. I'd been saved, and for that reason, I will always owe so much to this little, unassuming Balearic paradise.
Miraculously, Ibiza beheld an unspoken healing power that bypassed the advice of any doctor.
So much of my soul is still bonded to Ibiza, and being back on the island awakened a flurry of powerful emotions.
Ibiza Town is one of the most beautiful places on earth. 🌺
I actually don't even know where to start in trying to sum up how hilarious and utterly amazing the past couple of days have been!
First and foremost, a good few hours were spent enjoying some time alone reacquainting myself with my favourite spots on the island.
I paid a long overdue visit to Puerto de San Miguel up in the north of the island, where I used to rep.
So much has happened in the 8 years that have passed since 2015, yet being back there felt so... Natural. The years suddenly lapsed, and I could almost convince myself that I was actually still working there, strolling to the beach on my siesta. Every single little thing came back to me in a rush of sweet nostalgia, even down to the sound my apartment door made when opened. (It may seem strange, but I don't think I'll ever forget that apartment. It was the first place I'd ever lived other than my childhood home, and it couldn't have been any more perfect for me. I still fondly think about my evenings spent writing out on the balcony, overlooking the rolling pine forests and listening to the entertainment team sing 'Chu Chu Wa' on the complex below.)
I lay on San Miguel beach, where I wiled away pretty much every siesta throughout my season. I swear it was like that scene in Gavin & Stacey where they're reminiscing about all of their memories around Barry Island.
"Just over there on the far side of the beach, that's where I went on a date with a very hyperactive lifeguard who gave me a watermelon as a present. Behind is the hotel lobby where one of the guests 'blew wind' in the face of our receptionist in response to being asked to cover his bare chest in the dining room. And up there on those rocks is where I impaled myself on a large cactus and rang my manager crying, convinced that I was going to have to have my leg amputated." (Sadly, all true stories!)
Puerto de San Miguel - I was lucky enough to call this place my home for 4 months.
Yes, it really IS this beautiful! 😍
After spending the morning in San Miguel, I walked the hour to my favourite beach on the entire island: Benirass.
I've done that walk so many times I can practically still do it with my eyes closed.
The balmy afternoon sun and the sweet smell of pine created the most sensational combination. My feet grazed the shoreline's pebbles as I gave myself up to the ocean, sinking into its transparent hues and becoming one with the horizon. For me, Ibiza is all about these tiny little elements that tease the senses and leave me wanting more.
When I think of Ibiza, I don't see the West End, the Bossa strip, or the associated craziness. No, I see the Ibiza I was lucky enough to get to know all those years ago. The Ibiza I fell in love with. The Ibiza that still kisses my memory.
Benirass's northern location means that it's a bit of hidden gem as far as tourism goes, which always appealed to me. If you're ever in Ibiza and are seeking a more authentic and cultural experience, I'd definitely recommend checking out Benirass.
The beach is fringed by a hippy market and a couple of restaurants, and on occasion, it also plays host to a hippy sundown party, complete with drumming. Honestly, name a cooler place in Ibiza, I'll wait! 😍
Benirass: IMO the best beach in Ibiza. 💎
As well as San Miguel and Benirass, I also rekindled my love affair with Ibiza Town. I couldn't get enough of Ibiza Town when I lived on the island, and dedicated almost all of my days off to getting to know every inch of its remarkable maze of cobbled streets.
If you've never been to Ibiza Town, PLEASE add it to your bucket list!
It is simply a divine culture-overload that possesses the ability to take you to heaven and back in a few steps.
Dizzying wild floral displays erupt at every corner, their vibrant shades startling against the sand-and-white structures and the pristine-blue sky.
Ibiza Town doesn't shout or demand attention like its rowdier cousins. Instead, it sits patiently, shyly bearing its jumble of cobbles and utopian heart to those who seek the secrets of this island.
Ibiza Town is undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets in travel. 😍
I adored my solitary exploring, but it was the moments shared with my colleagues that really made the holiday.
Anyone who knows me or often reads my blog is aware how much I love being alone. I regularly solo travel, go to gigs on my own, and I'm rarely happier than when it's just me, myself and I.
The strange thing is, while I was off doing my own thing in Ibiza, I actually found myself missing my work friends. Truth be told, I couldn't wait to get back and spend time with them.
And that is practically unheard of for me!
I used to love a night out back in the day and spent the majority of my college years somehow thriving on about 3 hours sleep a week. Now that I've hit the dreaded 3.0, I get crabby if I'm not in bed by 10pm, and I find bars unbearable for no other reason other than the fact that they're full of people.
I didn't plan to go 'out out,' and flew to Ibiza armed with a Jacqueline Wilson book and my childhood soft toy dog, envisioning long nights in while my colleagues partied.
What actually happened was I found myself twerking to No Scrubs and Spanish songs I couldn't understand every single night of the holiday. I didn't get in any earlier than 2am during the entire trip! 💃🏼
I don't really know what came over me, but I was one of the 'last men standing' on more than one occasion - and I don't even drink!
On our second night, we were on our way back from a bar at 1 o'clock in the morning, and a few of us impulsively decided to run into the sea. The warmth of the Mediterranean Sea enveloped me like a comfort blanket as I submerged myself, my dress clinging to me.
Afterwards, we sat on the beach, chatting and laughing under the stars until the early hours of the morning.
Legendary quotes were born, and the lads did the best rendition of 'Whole Again' that I've ever heard.
It was just the best of times. Good friends, laughter, and nights you wish never had to end are precious beyond words. ❤️
I may have only been at my 'new' job for four months, but I've never felt so close to a group of people.
Not only did I finally secure my dream job when I accepted the role of Content Writer back in May, but I also found the most incredible friends. I cannot believe how blessed I am.
Being around such positive, genuine, uncomplicated people is a breath of fresh air.
It's rare that I feel so comfortable around people who aren't in my immediate circle, but it really does feel as though I've known these guys for years. I didn't even feel self-conscious eating in-front of them, which was a huge revelation. Christ, one night at tea, I even got seconds and THEN desserts, too!
If there's one thing anorexia struggles against, it's happiness and contentment.
I rediscovered my favourite ice-cream parlour in Ibiza Town! 😍
How fitting that my time in Ibiza coincided with World Mental Health Day, on Tuesday 10th October.
For me, World Mental Health Day began on the beach, indulging in an early morning writing session. The island stirred sleepily, and the sun uncurled its rays like the tender blooming of a rose. The waves stretched and reached their hands out to the shore as dawn broke. Planes shattered the sky as they came in to land.
No matter how many times I've witnessed the arrival of aircrafts in Ibiza, I still can't help but stare, transfixed, as they dart overhead, almost close enough to touch.
I put my pen down, lay back, and wiggled my toes in the sand.
In that moment, anorexia felt as distant as the vista beyond the endless pathway of the sea.
Was it Ibiza that brought about such a sense of calm and joy, or was it my lovely colleagues that I was honoured enough to share such moments with?
Maybe it was both. All I know is that I lay there and thanked my lucky stars for life.
Eight years ago - when I first came to Ibiza - I had all but given up. An unseen force instilled within me the determination to keep going, one foot in front of the other, head held high through every up and down. And now here I am, full circle, reunited with the island that saved me.
Yes it's been a tough road to walk at times, but I truthfully wouldn't change this journey for the world. Without anorexia, I would never have fled to Ibiza in the first place, and my life would have panned out very differently.
So today, I don't dwell on the moments that anorexia has stolen from me. Instead, I thank it for the moments it has inadvertently gifted me. Ibiza. Solo travel. Running. My dream job. Wonderful friends. And every tiny victory, every small smile in-between.
In-line with World Mental Health Day, I dedicate this post to those who surround us with love and laughter in our darkest moments. I'm fortunate enough to have wonderful circle - both family and friends - who continuously remind me of the value of life. It's a bonus that this crucial army now includes my wonderful work colleagues.
I also dedicate this post to Ibiza. Forever my everlasting love. Thank you for everything. ❤️
World Mental Health Day: writing on the beach.
(Apparently I was also celebrating World Hobbit Feet Day too 🤮🤣)
My 6 favourite moments from Ibiza 2023:
Spontaneously running into the sea with my work friends at 1 o'clock in the morning. 🌊
2. Laughing on the beach until 3am with everyone, making memories I'll never forget. 🏖️
3. Running 8k along the surf in my bikini, barefoot. Talk about a training session with a difference! 🏃🏻♀️
4. Delving into the hidden world of Ibiza Old Town. 🌸
5. An early morning writing session on the beach. ✍🏼
6. Dancing to Spanish music in the club without a care in the world, feeling totally free. 💃🏼
Ibiza, always. 🔒
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©