This year I entered my fifth year of recovery from my eating disorder. I have learned things about recovery, but I don’t always remember them in the moments of struggle. Here are eight things I tell myself about recovery when I’m struggling:
1. You can’t wait for everyone to get better. If you wait until everyone is well to give yourself permission to fully recover, then you will never do so.
2. Don’t compare your recovery with someone else’s recovery. Same with your relapses. Your journey is your own and everyone’s journey is individual and unique. The one commonality about everyone’s eating disorder story is it is hell on Earth. Remember that.
3. “I am only hurting myself” is not an excuse to continue eating disorder behavior. This is untrue. Look at your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your friends.
4. Go to therapy. Yes, even when you are convinced your therapist is useless. Therapy is your medicine and is teaching you to change your thoughts and patterns. It gives you accountability with your therapist and also teaches you how to be accountable to yourself. Therapy can be essential to your recovery.
5. Find those friends and family members in life who are your true support system and hold on to them. Not everyone who was in your life before your eating disorder or who enters your life during the years of recovery can be someone you share your darkest moments with. Figure out who the people are who you can trust and open up to them. Allow them to share some of the burden. When they ask if they can help, say yes. Even if all you need from them is to sit silently on the other end of the telephone and listen.
6. Discover what gives you joy and pursue that. This is what will fill the space previously occupied by counting the number of calories in every food or focusing on the exact weight you must be. You must seek out light on this journey. Deliberately trying new things to bring yourself happiness will do this. Hold onto these new passions and pleasures. Bring them out when the darkness seems too great.
7. Leave the eating disorder world. Stop reading the sick girl’s Tumblrs and blogs and wishing you were them. Instead, post quotes and poems that talk about strength and survival. As you do this, choose survival for yourself, each and every time.
8. Finally, begin to let go of the illness. Open your life to the possibility of living.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.