EATING DISORDER RECOVERY
The reason I do this work
The reason I do this work
Today I want to get real, honest, and vulnerable about recovery from an eating disorder. I will be sharing some frequently asked questions related to recovery. My answers come from my own personal experience as someone in recovery and as a clinician who treats clients with eating disorders.
In the field of mental health, it is taboo to self-disclose as a provider. However, my choice to treat eating disorders comes from my passion for eating disorder recovery. You see, I have found freedom after being trapped for years by a life-threatening eating disorder. As someone who has fought hard for recovery, my goal and desire is to aid others in finding the peace I have found. I want to scream from every rooftop, “Recovery Is Possible!”
YES! Recovery is absolutely possible. Recovery seems impossible when you are in the midst of your eating disorder; hope is hard to hold onto. It is in these moments that I urge you to seek support from eating disorder specialists and from your trusted support system – we can hold this hope for you. Every individual’s eating disorder is unique, as is each person’s recovery, and their road to it. One thing to be wary of is quasi recovery – the idea of having a functioning eating disorder. You might be able to stay out of residential or inpatient treatment, but this is not recovery. Do not let yourself settle and believe that this is what recovery looks like. Recovery is freedom from the compulsion of eating disorder behaviors and preoccupation about food and/or your body. Recovery is breaking free from the shackles of the diet industry. Recovery is living into YOUR values not your eating disorder’s values. The road to recovery is individualized. I urge you to find a treatment team that challenges you, respects you, nurtures you, provides clear boundaries, and supports you in a way that is productive. Recovery is possible, dear ones, and you are worth it.
Ever heard the cliché phrase, “you may feel worse before you feel better?” This is often the experience of people in recovery once they have extinguished their eating disorder behaviors. I share this not to de-motivate you, but to encourage you to keep going – the goodness is coming, keep fighting. You have stopped binging, purging, restricting, etc. However, your eating disorder thoughts are still very loud. This can be very challenging for your loved ones, because they believe you are better, but in reality you are still struggling. In DBT, we call this stage of recovery “quiet desperation.” You see, your eating disorder is a coping skill and you have used it to survive life’s pain. Now that you are not engaging in the behaviors that kept you numb and distracted, the thoughts and emotions you have been running from are now bubbling up. Your eating disorder is fighting to maintain life and control over you, and thus it makes sense that the demands of your eating disorder intensifies as you continue to deny its wishes. The longer you can abstain from your behaviors, the more your brain will learn to trust that you can tolerate the pain of being human and the more you will realize that your coping mechanism, your eating disorder, is worse than the pain you were running from. You will learn new adaptive skills and tools to tolerate your thoughts and emotions, leaving your eating disorder un-needed. This stage of recovery is HARD, and it is TEMPORARY. Keep your dukes up, warrior – you are in the arena. Know that you are not alone, you have so many people cheering you on.
I remember a time in early recovery when I asked myself this question. Was all that fighting worth it? Life is hard. There is so much pain in the world. I still struggled with my body. I still wondered if I was good enough, if I was worthy and lovable. Years into recovery now, I reflect on the things life in recovery has gifted me…
This is not even close to a comprehensive list of the things recovery has gifted me. But to answer the question: YES, recovery is 100% worth it. You are an amazing person with so much to live for. Do not let the lies your eating disorder tells you, keep you from living. You deserve to live a life worth living and to BE.WHOLE.
Thank you for reading,