Hey ED Recovery Warrior —
We see you. We honor you. We know how hard you’re working because we have straight-up been there. We also know that when you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, every single day offers dozens (hundreds, even) of opportunities to support yourself and move forward. That’s empowering, but it can also be exhausting. If you’re feeling burnt-out on recovery, or if you’ve lost sight of what you’re fighting for, keep reading.
We’ve compiled 5 little truths about recovery. They’re small reminders, but they have a big impact on our mental and emotional states of mind as we do the work. These are the reminders that helped us recover, and they are also the manifestos that keep us balanced and well day-in, day-out. You’ve got this. You’re strong. You’re powerful. We believe in you.
“Set weight” isn’t the end-all, be-all to measuring health.
Where would we be without our treatment teams? These amazing clinicians, dietitians, therapists, coaches, and counselors help us set goals, stay inspired, and stay motivated. It’s important for both the human in recovery (that’s you 💖) and the treatment team to remember that weight is just a number, and not necessarily the key to a recovered and nourished life. In fact, a too-narrow focus or obsession on a weight-related goal can be just as damaging and frustrating as the eating disorder itself. We love working with clinicians who consider other benchmarks along the recovery process, like metabolic process, cell phase angle, and the mental/emotional energy you have to go about your badass life!
You can’t “do” recovery perfectly.
Feeling a fire in your belly to heal is a powerful, amazing thing. And for many, committing themselves to recovery means they are SO ready to leave the eating disorder in the dust. But remember this: No matter how focused and dedicated to the process you are, there’s no “perfect” in recovery. You’ll try your best, every single day because you’re capable and strong — but remember that your best is a human best. Humans are imperfect and sometimes even a little messy. That’s what makes us so fascinating/awesome/beautiful/cool . Said another way: Recovery is not a linear process. You may feel like you’re walking in circles, but instead, try to imagine yourself climbing up a spiral staircase; maybe you’re walking in circles, but you’re always moving upward.
ED behaviors might not stop completely and immediately.
The behaviors that go hand-in-hand with your eating disorder are tools. They’re coping mechanisms and tactics you’ve cultivated over time to keep yourself safe from trauma, stress, or another trigger. And hey — it’s okay to acknowledge how helpful those tools were for a time. Eating disorders can be challenging to treat, because they’re incredibly powerful. In the moment, they provide relief and sanctuary. Know this: It’s okay if the behaviors don’t stop completely, immediately. As you move forward in your recovery, you may find yourself choosing a more sustainable tool or tactic with greater frequency. That’s awesome! Remember how good it feels to care for yourself without the ED. If do you reach for the ED behavior, don’t beat yourself up. You’re not doing recovery wrong. You’re trying to take care of yourself. Instead, reflect on what purpose the behavior served, or what need it might be trying to meet. Some questions to ask yourself: Did this tool provide short- or long-term relief? Did the negatives of engaging in this behavior outweigh the benefits? How can I find compassion for myself and my choice in that moment? How might I meet that need more in a more sustainable way next time?
Your recovery can be intimate and private.
Oh, Instagram. How we love you… how we loathe you. Social media can be a really powerful tool for finding recovery inspiration, but it also has the tendency to spark the comparison game. Even well-meaning pro-recovery accounts can feel triggering if you’re feeling fragile. So know this: You do not have to talk about your journey publicly just because people you admire are doing so. It’s okay not to share the details of your recovery in a social space. You don’t ever have to post pictures of yourself. You are not obligated to talk about this at work, at school, or in any other situation that doesn’t feel right. It’s your body, your health, your journey, and YOUR choice.
Finding ways to reflect and express yourself are so important.
While you don’t need to feel obligated to share your recovery work with the world, we’ve found time and time again the value of having safe spaces to express ourselves and process through the complex thoughts and emotions that can come along with recovery. This might be through a journaling practice or another form of creative expression like dance, poetry, music or collage. It might also look like talking-it-out with a therapist, coach or someone safe in your community who understands and can offer empathy and support as you navigate your way through this messy process. When we’re able to witness our thoughts and emotions outside of our heads, it helps us to strip away some of the shame we may be holding around those thoughts and emotions. And when we aren’t overtaken by shame, taking the steps to move forward in recovery can feel a whole lot more doable and empowering!