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The Things I'm Getting Right in My Eating Disorder Recovery

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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.

It’s so easy to focus on everything that goes wrong, everything that still needs to be fixed, and how big the fricking recovery mountain is.

It’s so easy to regret the decades where I didn’t seek recovery or acknowledge the severity of my problems. It’s so easy to bemoan my many failed attempts at change, the misunderstandings of my own behaviors and those of others, and look back in frustration at not having the wisdom or strength to question my thoughts and feelings and actions.

These things are easy to do. I do them every day. It’s part of the perfectionist thinking common to many addictive behaviors: “I’m not good enough. I haven’t mastered this aspect of recovery, therefore I’ll never recover. It’s too hard. I’m beyond redemption. There is no hope.”

While I recognize I am climbing a very tall, steep mountain, and I’ve spent a lot of time sliding down unforeseen crevasses, today I want to focus on some of the progress I have made. And while I confess that part of the reason for this post is to make other people feel better (everyone likes to hear success stories) I also recognize that acknowledging progress is part of the recovery path in every aspect of my mental health.

So here we go – this is what I am succeeding at right now (I had to retype the word “succeeding” several times – it sticks in my throat…)

1. I made an appointment to see a dietitian. I didn’t want to. I’ve resisted this for a long time as I feel I already know how to eat well and in a sensible manner – I just “choose” not to do it.

2. I have not restricted for two weeks. Not once. Despite waking up every day feeling horrified at my weight and listening to the voice screaming inside my head about how useless and fat and stupid I am, and that restricting is the only answer, I have not done so.

3. I am trying not to purge. I am – for the most part – eating in a manner which allows me to keep food down. I do slip up every few days, but compared to purging every single thing which passes my lips, it’s an improvement.

4. I chant the phrase, “The answer is in recovery” to myself relentlessly – especially when I want to restrict. True recovery will eventually see me eating healthy meals throughout the day without guilt or shame. And this manner of eating will ultimately lead to my weight stabilizing in a healthy place. This I have been promised…

5. I am watching some really helpful ED recovery videos – almost every day. I am trying to absorb the really sensible lessons. It’s not new information, but it is information I need to keep hearing because clearly, I keep forgetting to do it.

6. I am not self-harming. While I did have a bad moment last week, in general, I am not self-harming anymore.

7. I got a tattoo. It is a line in the sand to remind me suicide is not an option – my story isn’t over yet…

8. I am writing. It was a tool I had been hearing about for years and had resisted. Eventually, I thought I’d give it a go, and what do you know? It actually helps.

9. I am not good at talking to people about stuff – out loud and face-to-face. Not even with my close friends, family or even my psychologist. I will do it. But I’m uncomfortable and to be honest, information needs to be drawn out of me – it will rarely be volunteered. However, I have started occasionally venturing into little tidbits of shared information – without someone having to force it out of me.

10. Multivitamins. My bulimia has caused malnourishment resulting in considerable fatigue. My energy levels have been so low for so long I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be me! So while I do need to work on the eating disorder, in the meantime my energy levels will hopefully improve if I take a multivitamin, which could potentially increase mood as well.

So that’s my list of 10 things which are recovery positives right now. It doesn’t feel like much to me. It certainly doesn’t feel like it is nearly enough… But it is success (there’s that ugly word again) I’m experiencing right here and right now.

Onwards and upwards?

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.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Unsplash photo via Caleb Frith

Originally published: April 29, 2017
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