How do you cope when you are not the one in the driving seat?

Laura Hearn

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

It’s mental health awareness week…hence being asked to write this piece, but it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for me personally.


I’m not really a fan of ‘official weeks’ to highlight any issue; I believe they create a lot of focus for one week when in actual fact your mental and physical health is an EVERY day experience. But before I venture off into a whole other area, I wanted to share something I have been going through myself recently.

I can’t go into the specifics, but what I want to explain is how I have coped, or not coped during the whole period.

By nature, I am someone who likes to be able to be in control. It’s a familiar trait of someone with an eating disorder, and one of the biggest parts of me that I’ve had to learn to use as an asset, instead of an internal punishment. In the past (when I was knee-deep in anorexia) I would control my food when I felt unable to control what was going on around me.

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In the short-term it made me feel better, but of course, in the long-term, it never changed anything, other than make me ill and even less able to cope mentally and physically.

These past few weeks have pushed my reserves to the absolute limits. I feel powerless to change an outcome, which ultimately lies in the powers of others who I have little influence over. It has been incredibly anxiety-inducing, and I’ve felt as though my destiny is in the hands of others. I have had sleepless nights, dreams whereby I relive conversations and nightmares where the characters have played out varying scenarios. I have shed enough tears to fill a small pool, and worn myself out with the constant ‘what ifs.’

"My mood has steadily dropped, I have been tearful almost every day and I was running on very little fuel." 


Yesterday though, I came to some sort of acceptance, and I say ‘some sort’ because somewhere inside me, I am still wishing for a certain outcome. But, I did realise that this level of anxiety and stress had been affecting me far too much. I began to pick at myself, and I allowed my eating disorder voice to berate me.

“If you were good enough, if you were worth it, if you deserved it…then they would fight for you.” I have heard it all before. When I was ill, these were the kind of words my anorexia would tell me every minute of every hour. I actually felt numb last night. I didn’t really care what would happen; I was too tired to care, and this was actually the turning point for me.

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I reminded myself of all the things I tell others who come to me struggling. Some things are just simply not in my power to change. Sure, I can do my best to influence a situation, but ultimately ‘what will be will be.’ People don’t say or do as I would like, and for whatever reason, I can’t make someone do something they are not willing to do.

I have reminded myself that just because something doesn’t turn out the way I want it to, it doesn’t mean it is automatically my fault. I am not an unworthy or a bad person, and neither are those around me who may also be powerless to do anything. I have been reminded along the way, that there are many people who will go the extra mile for me, and that they actually say and do things that go far beyond my expectations.


For now, all I can do is sit with the unknown and trust that I am where I am meant to be.


It might sound a bit ‘hippy,’ but it’s true. What else can I do? The past few months of doing all I can to control the outcome has led me to almost breaking point. My recovery, my relationships, my life is worth more than that. I have dug myself out of deeper trenches than this before, so I am cemented in the knowledge that I will be OK.

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This is a lesson I am learning from, and one way or another, the situation will resolve and I will come out the other side stronger. In the meantime, this weekend I am trying to rest, eat well and be at peace with myself. Battling with others and the ‘system’ that’s in my way is exhausting enough…battling with myself on top of this, is an unnecessary evil.

I have a choice in how I respond to situations and people that are not in my control. I also have a choice in how I respond to myself. I spent two decades fighting my mind and body; I am not going back there. Instead, I will focus on the potential opportunities that could be on the horizon. Often it’s when we are backed into a corner, that our space suddenly opens up.

If you relate to any of this, close your eyes, take a deep breath and let go. Holding on for dear life is tiring. Free yourself, and trust that you are stronger than you think. You will be OK…maybe even more than OK.

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About Our Guest Writer

JiggsyLaura Hearn
Founder of Jiggsy

Laura is the founder of Jiggsy; a global peer support community connecting everyone affected by an eating disorder and mental health issue.

Through her blog, workshops, and one-to-one recovery coaching, Laura educates individuals and groups on how they can heal their relationship with their core self. Whether with clients, charities or companies, she shares her experience and tools on how to get well and stay well.

Laura strives to empower people to look after their whole self; their mind, body and soul, and to realise the power of connection in mental well-being.

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