January 23, 2014

sarah and her sisterSometimes we spoke about my battle with anorexia, sometimes about our family, our parents’ divorce, food, children. We talked about life and sometimes just about the most random things imaginable. But what walking and talking with my sister has done is invaluable to my recovery.

Getting outside gave us a space to talk about mental health

When I first moved home for treatment, getting outside gave us a space to talk about mental health, for me to try and explain my recovery – but also for me to listen to how my illness affected her. It gave me a chance to help her out too, give her some big sister advice for her own problems and to listen to her talk too.
Or sometimes, it was a chance to simply talk about nothing at all. To just walk together.
She’s never been a ‘talker’ or shared much with me, she also said from the start she wouldn’t be treating me any differently because of anorexia, she said she didn’t care about my illness.
In her eyes I just needed to be treated normally. To some it may sound uncaring, but she was right, I’m still just her sister. Actually, sometimes not being quizzed over recovery, meal plans or blood tests was the breath of fresh air I needed. Our walks gave me this space.

Our walks allowed me to reconnect with a sister I'd pushed away because of my illness

They helped me escape the restrictions of anorexia and the four walls of my childhood bedroom I’d become confined to. They reminded me I did enjoy more than counting calories, my weight and meal times. They allowed me to reconnect with a sister I’d pushed away because of my illness.
We walked around our old playtime haunts, past our primary school or down streets we didn’t even know existed in the town we grew up. Planning our rainy day routes or afternoons strolls in the sunshine quickly became something I looked forward to, a welcomed distraction.

Having time to walk and talk has allowed us to understand more about each other

I don’t know how many hours we’ve spent wandering around in the past two years, or how many miles we covered, but I do know that without that time we may never have talked about some of the things we have. I’ve found out things about my little sister I never knew. We’ve shared teenage secrets, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried and we’ve moaned about our parents, planned parties, weddings and our futures.
I’d like to think she knows more about anorexia because of our walks, that she understands eating disorders a little better, but don’t know for sure how much more she grasps about how I became so ill. But what it has done is much more important to me than any of that. It has brought us closer together, as people. Having that time to walk and talk has allowed us to understand more about each other, as women, sisters and friends, regardless of which one of us is battling with mental illness.

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