The 5 Words That Are Giving Me Hope in Mental Health Recovery

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

I’ve started a course in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and while I’m very early in the process (halfway through week one), I have already found a lovely little snippet that really resonated with me. And I mean really resonated!

I’m not broken. I’m stuck.

How simple is that? After completely falling apart, it was very easy and natural for me to assume I’m broken. That I was beyond repair and could never be the same again. In fact, even prior to falling apart, I worked on eating disorder issues for many years and often said I felt beyond redemption. I still worry about that… But five little words really changed my perspective. When something is broken, it is forever altered. It can be repaired, but those repairs are always noticeable. There is a weakness that wasn’t previously there and scars provide a visual reminder of the damage.When something is stuck, it just doesn’t know how to move yet. It’s not damaged. Perhaps it may never move, but there is always potential. Stuck things might need a little grease and oil change. Maybe a different approach or change in direction. But they’re not necessarily broken and they’re not beyond repair.

But a stuck thing will break if you force it too hard.

I have to say though, reading those five little words sent a spark of hope through me. They helped me to believe change is not only possible, but probable. Because honestly, I have always believed change possible, but never believed it probable. I have many things to fix. I’m not special — we all have many things to fix.

I know in my life, some issues have been laid to rest. I’ve done a lot of work and developed a lot of insight and self-awareness. Like most people however, the first successes come from the newest problems. The more ancient and deep-rooted the issue, the more difficult it is to make change. Thankfully a lot of mental health issues relate to each other — so work done on improving depression or anxiety, pays off in all areas. So does this light bulb moment change anything right now? Absolutely not. I had a pretty appalling weekend of black and white thinking and behaviors. I fell for the classic faulty thought, if I eat anything I’ll eat everything. And I did. I ate everything and was struck down with the all too familiar disgust and self-loathing. But now I have hope, which is such a precious commodity, so hard to come by, and impossible to fake. My new little catchphrase is giving me hope:

I’m not broken. I’m stuck.

Every little nudge gets me a little less stuck. And one day I will be free.

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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