Right now, it's a weird time for everyone. Our daily routines have been shaken up, our loved ones are either constantly around or extremely far away, and we're living through something I guess we'd never thought we'd live through. Life these days can be truly tedious, or super upbeat and full of energy (depending on the amount of coffee consumed, of course) - it's one big turbulent ride that we've all just got to go along with.

This time in isolation has been hard for me, not solely because each day seems to be an emotional roller-coaster, shifting from staring into space, to dancing around the garden with a aperol spritz in hand, but mostly because of my relationship with food and my body.

*trigger warning*

I was diagnosed with Anorexia, Bulimia and Depression back in 2014, and since then I've recovered well, but as many of you might know, once you've been in the grips of an eating disorder, it's hard to leave those thoughts and emotions behind.

Food has always given me a sense of comfort, as well as being something I can truly loathe. It's that constant in my life that will never leave me - the mundane part of my life that, despite it's ordinary value, seems to send me into a whirlwind of obsession.

As a teenager it was my vice - it was the thing that numbed all the pain that I was feeling. Binge eating on food felt like I was physically suppressing and pushing down all that hurt and upset that I was lugging home from school with me in my Jane Norman tote bag. I was a young girl just trying to fit in with everyone, but I never did seem to fit everyone's standards. I was this awkward teenage circle, trying to fit in a tall, pretty, thin shaped hole of society. Food seemed to be the only thing that wouldn't hurt me and, for a long time, it was the only thing that didn't make me feel alone.

As I grew older, everything flipped on it's head and it became the one thing in my life I could control. It became something my life revolved around - calorie counting, watching that number on the scales, knowing the content of everything I would put into my body. Food had become my worst enemy, yet all I seemed to care about at the same time.

I've been through all the ups and downs of it all, and I'd say I was in a pretty content place right now. However, given the circumstances we've been thrown into, things have felt a little rocky as of late, and I guess I just wanted to put this out there in case anyone else is feeling it too.

One of the hardest things for me has been my loss of my *somewhat* routine; not to say that I had this perfectly timed eating routine like I did back in 2014... god, oh god no... nothing like that at all, but I did have a life where I moved around and traveled a lot and I had found solace in placing my meals around that. My life in 2020 is lived freely in comparison to my life in 2014 (ironic that I write this during a lockdown). Food in my teen years was eaten around a very strict time schedule that, if I was even 1 minute of off, would send me into a complete breakdown. Nowadays, it's a different story. My meals are no-where-near that rigid. I mean, sure, I like to eat breakfast in the morning, lunch at lunch time and tea at tea time, but if those meals are at different times each day, so what?! Everything in my life had become flexible and calm over time, and I was happy with that.

Being in lockdown during this time however, has triggered a lot of old emotions. It's hard to be cooped-up inside and not find yourself reaching for the same old meals, with the same old calorific content and wanting to fall back into that old pattern of eating at the same times, just to gain some sense of control again. It's that familiarity and isolation that eating disorders can thrive off.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't nearly fallen back into a timed routine at the beginning of this all. I felt like that would be the only thing that would keep me sane - give me some sense of power over this whole situation. It was easy to think that with the shops being ransacked and the shelves completely emptied, that I could plummet back into a restrictive lifestyle, but luckily I knocked that on the head as soon as I felt it creeping back in.

Sure, it's been hard when some of those 'safe foods' haven't been available or I've been confronted with packets of food that have 'LESS THAN 200 CALORIES' stamped right on the front, but I realised that my life didn't need to change in that respect. My progress with food and the relationship with myself didn't all need to go-to-pot just because my everyday life had a spanner thrown in the works. Just because I wasn't sitting on a Northern Rail train every other day for work, or swanning off to my boyfriend's for a weekend of treat days (when your boyfriend works at Costa Coffee and brings home free cake, you eat the cake, okay?!), it didn't mean I had to revert back to my 16 year old self.

I'm still the person I was before lockdown. I still have all that growth I've worked on. I still have the freedom to enjoy food and not let it control my every thought.

It's hard not to slip back into old habits right now, but I guess my only trick/advice would be to try and override them with new ones. Create new habits that fit your life in isolation. Find what works for you right now, in this moment.

Wake up and eat breakfast with your favourite podcast on, eat a snack whilst indulging in your favourite book, settle down with your evening meal in a calming space. Create a life in isolation that feels homely and safe.

I also find shaking up your meals helps - don't get stuck fixating on specific foods or keeping healthy. Go with your emotions, eat what you have a hankering for. If that's a salad, then fine, if it's a triple cheese pizza, that's also fine!

With everyone around us sharing their morning workouts and their 'slim down during lockdown' plans, it's hard not to feel like you should slip on those running trainers and do 3 long hours of over-exercising - I get it.

For me, exercise is just one massive trigger. I've never been able to exercise purely out of the love of endorphins or the need to be strong, it's always been about burning calories or seeing my thighs shrink.

I try and block out people's workout content when I'm skimming through social media. And, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying people are in the wrong for sharing these things... if you're fit as a fiddle and can run 5K without almost passing out, then bloody well good for you! Who am I to comment as a lazy 21 year old, who's exercise routine consists mostly of walking up and down the stairs?! But, as someone with a brain that constantly screams 'you need to be as thin as her!', it's just not the content I'm into or, to put it better, can handle.

Not long ago, something clicked for me. Until I can exercise out of enjoyment, then it's not something that needs to present in my life. Sometimes it's just another added pressure to change who I am, and I don't necessarily want to right now (a revelation for me, I know). That's not to say I don't exercise at all, of course it's important to get our bodies moving, especially when we're inside most of the time these days. I tend to stick to going for long walks or small 15 minute work-outs that get your blood pumping, but don't trigger off the need to keep going and going.

I've realised that just because someone else is doing something, it doesn't mean I have to too. I'm my own person, and if something in someone else's life doesn't serve me, then that's completely fine.

I've spent so much of my life comparing myself, looking at my reflection in the mirror and thinking 'oh god, I should start working out like 'x'' or 'my thighs don't look like 'x's'. It's draining and, to be frank, quite pointless.

Not everyone's goals and lives are the same. We're on our own paths, with our own ways of living and different levels of accessibility. If simply just getting out of bed each day is all you can do, then that's an achievement in itself. Do what works for you and don't worry about heading out of quarantine with a new set of abs or being 10lbs lighter - I certainly won't be.

As Theodore Roosevelt put so perfectly, "comparison is the thief of joy", and we all need to remember that.

As much as being inside can trigger a lot of restrictive thoughts, as a bulimic, it can also trigger the urge to binge.

With the house filled up with emergency 'rations', it's hard not to feel the food beckoning you over, convincing you to eat it, to indulge, to numb the worry. Plus, it's simply so easy right now to just eat to pass the time - filling the hours with stacks of snacks that you've sneaked past your Mum up to your bedroom.

My biggest struggle lately has been the evenings. I find the days seem to fly by me with no problem at all, whilst the evenings feel really long and, well, lonely.

Loneliness is such a massive contributor to Bulimia in particular. It's a trigger that urges that loss of control and intensifies the need to binge. With no one around you to keep you distracted, it's hard not to give into those thoughts.

A lot of my binges come from feeling low about myself, feeling unwanted, feeling sad, and during this time, those feelings have certainly been heightened. However, I've tried not to be so hard on myself when it comes to binging. If I have binged, it hasn't been to an extreme level and I'm glad about that, but it definitely doesn't make the guilt any lesser. I've had to realise that what we're going through right now is truly surreal, and that it's bound to play with my emotions. As much as the guilt tries to eat me alive (if you pardon the pun), I keep reminding myself that it's okay to indulge every once in a while and that I'm only human.

We're all going to have days where chocolate and a box of biscuits is our only distraction, it's inevitable, so just go easy on yourself. We're all in the same boat, so you're not alone.

I read something recently on BEAT too, which is a really useful tool if you're struggling with consistent binges:

"Think of BLAST - are you Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired? Try and make a list of distractions for each of these categories so you have an action plan for each of these scenarios. It may be that if you're in isolation someone is there with you and will be able to take your mind off the idea of binging, but there are lots of things you could do on your own, from reading to laundry to playing a game."

I myself have been doing a lot of reading and trying to surround myself with the people in my household as much as I can. I think it can be so easy to hide away when your emotions are low, but having people around you can really distract you from those irrational thoughts.

Coming back to the idea of routine I talked about earlier too, a non-obsessive routine can be really good for warding off binges (non-obsessive is big factor here). Find your flow within your days, notice your hunger queues, maybe associate meals with the time you're watching your favourite show - something that brings you happiness.

With everything going on right now, I just want to remind anyone reading this that may be struggling, that our health is so so important. Remember to take care of yourself, feed your body and try and cut yourself some slack.

We're all going through our own thing, so feel your emotions, don't restrict yourself, treat yourself to that chocolate bar and don't worry about what other people are doing.

If anyone needs an understanding shoulder, then I'm here. I'm always just a message away.

All my love to you all, keep happy and stay safe x