Throughout these past five years, I have been longing for a chance to escape, away from everything that surrounds everyday life. You can become so consumed by the regularity of the day to day activities, that could really bring you down. Having suffered from an eating disorder and clinical depression during this time, I never saw it possible to ever break the cycle, and just be in the moment without a care.
Not only was I trapped, my whole family was caught in this nightmare, with nowhere to hide from it all. Every day was a battle, with each one of us having different emotions affecting ourselves. It really seemed impossible to recover. Hope felt against us, especially me as I was the one who had to be willing to get better. We longed to be anywhere in the world, just somewhere we can feel that sunshine on our faces and have nothing to worry about, as we all just wanted to be well and happy.
Fast forward to the present and here I am, well on the way to full recovery, mentally stronger than ever before, and writing about my time in Icmeler, Turkey. Though we were not a complete family of four on this adventure, it was a perfect opportunity to spend some loving memories with my unbelievable parents. They have gone above and beyond to get me to where I am today, and for that, I will always owe my success and achievements to them. Despite my refusal to co-operate with them for so long, they still stood by me through all the painful arguments, tears and heart-ache. Nothing can possibly compare to the unconditional love that we all have for one another as a united family.
There is a lot of controversy over whether are not Turkey is worth visiting, but I assure you that there is nothing to worry about. It is a beautiful country, full of gorgeous scenery and clear blue seas. The people of Icmeler were so friendly and helpful, they always did their very best to make you feel welcome. Where we were staying was surrounded by luscious green hills, so the sunrise and sunsets were out of this world.
We really wanted to have this time away as a relaxing break, so we didn’t really do much. This in itself proved a challenge for myself, as I have not rested mentally or physically properly in a long time. It took a good few days and some reassuring talks with my parents, that it is perfectly normal to have no real plans for the day. We spent most of our time lounging around the poolside, catching those scorching 37-degree rays and having a swim to cool down. For someone who is very active at home, this was difficult, but I knew that my body and mind needed to stop and recharge. So there was no training throughout, only a picturesque bike ride from Icmeler to Marmaris with my Dad and then a peddle boat ride to a near island off the bay.
We did, however, decide to book one excursion, that took us by boat to Turtle Beach and the Dalayan River. The whole day was wonderful, and such a great way to view the island in all its glory. There was an opportunity to jump off the boat and swim in the sea, which I embraced to the max! It was a thrill to be so daring in front of so many other people, filling me with more confidence. We then went on to Turtle Beach, or should I say turtle-ss beach, as there wasn’t a single one there. But we were very lucky to be looking out to sea on our way there and spot a turtle swimming in the middle of the water! It was my first ever encounter with a turtle so it will be one of my treasured memories.
Next up was seeing 2000-year-old Roman ruins that are carved into the hills along the Dalayan River. They were a sight to behold, knowing how long they have been there for. Floating gently to them felt so remote, it was one of the moments when you realise that you are apart of a bigger picture.
Unfortunately, I really learnt the hard way in how the heat can affect you, as about five days in, I came down with severe heat stroke and could barely move without pain. My whole body was still being pushed to do more with no comprehension of the temperature. So this forced me to completely stop, and rest until I began to feel better. Over those two days, I couldn’t believe how much my attitude changed. I didn’t want to keep being so hard on myself by pushing to do more activity than needed. After all, I was only going to be there for 10 days, so what could reduced levels of movement do to my physic in this space of time? It hasn’t changed how I look, nor has it changed my metabolism (continued eating so much lovely food!). It has only made a huge impact on my mentality towards how I will take care of my body from now on.
Speaking of food, I decided before I left that there would be no macro or calorie counting during this holiday. Not that I am completely dependent on getting the exact amount every day anyway, this was going to really put my strength to the test, to see how I would cope in a completely new environment, with no control on anything. It was amazing to be able to eat freely, sampling several Turkish dishes that were suitable for gluten intolerant people like myself. Unfortunately, not all was okay for me, but that was to be expected. The hotel staff were so accommodating in telling me what I could or couldn’t have. This is another huge milestone in my recovery, as I had no control over how any of the food was made and how much anything measured. I drank my body weight in diet coke, ate my favourite chocolate chip cookies and devoured as much ice cream as I could afford during the whole holiday. Even tried out some authentic Turkish ice cream which was so rich and velvety to taste! I didn’t want to regret not enjoying anything that I love so much. I owe it to myself for coming so far in life. Not ashamed to say that I am so proud of myself.
One of the highlights of our time here was going to dinner at a place called Hanedan’s Authentic Turkish BBQ Cuisine which was discovered on trip advisor before we went. I really wanted to get a true taste of the country that I am staying in, and this was the best choice I made. The atmosphere there was peaceful and comfortable. Best of all, they cater for celiac and gluten intolerant customers. As this is a family run restaurant, you are really welcomed into their livelihood. You can see them cooking your food, which added to the amazement of this experience. The head chef came over and guided me through my options and told me that he would guarantee I would be safe. It was the idyllic way to end our time here.
To start we had some garlic mushrooms along side a deliciously mixed meze, where my parents shared a gigantic Turkish flat bread loaf and the chef made a special flatbread for me! It was extremely special to be catered for in a foreign place and to be apart of their traditions.
Then the mains arrived. Oh my goodness! It is one of the best dishes have ever had. My dad chose the Ottoman Steak, which he couldn’t praise up enough and my mum had a Pacha Kebab which came to the table sizzling hot. She had to wait at least four minutes for it to cool down! I opted for their Paper Kebab, which is chicken, peas, carrots, onion and green pepper, mixed with a blend of spices inside special paper in an oven, served with some sautéed potatoes and cabbage. I was blown away by my enjoyment. Every last scrapping on the clay dish was savoured to the end. My parents were both bowled over by how much they loved it too! Just goes to prove, you have to try it before you rule it out. We did also have ice creams dessert, as it would be rude not to really. We will definitely be revisiting Hanedan’s on our next visit to Turkey.
Now that I am back home, I am feeling bittersweet. There is a lot of sadness to have left Icmeler, but I now know what all the hard work I will be doing in the coming year will be for. Not only do I look forward to where I will be travelling to next, but I am excited to see where I will be in a years time. From now on, I will be collecting memories, not things. I will be achieving not dreaming. Time waits for no-one so take that chance, push your boundaries and live for the moment. I don’t ever want to say “I wish I did that”, I already have too many of those due to my illness. The whole point of recovery is becoming free and spreading your wings wider than ever before, in order to live the life you always wanted.
Here’s to so many more adventures to come.