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5 Things I Do When I Feel Undeserving of Eating Disorder Recovery

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Being in recovery from bulimia is exhausting. Some days I feel like I am walking through a pit of fire, and it occasionally feels like I am unworthy of living a recovered lifestyle. It isn’t often when this thought pops up, but when it does, I get stuck on it. I wonder about the validity of my eating disorder, if I ever really had one and if I even need recovery. I wonder if I am capable of living in recovery, and if I am even worthy enough to put the time and effort into achieving a healthy life for myself. Even if I can’t agree that I deserve recovery, I can agree to do the next right thing.

Here are five things I do when I don’t feel like I deserve recovery:

1. I pick up the phone and I call a friend who understands my struggle.

I ask her to talk about her own recovery and the steps she takes on a daily basis to feed and take care of herself. It is imperative that I reach out to other people in the eating disorder world for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I need to be reminded of how bad it can be if I were to go back to my eating disorder. Another reason is because they show me an immense amount of strength on a daily basis. I have a few people in my life who are solid in their recovery and it gives me a lot of hope to see they are fighting the fight.

2. I eat an apple. 

I eat apples when I am despairing in the restriction of my eating disorder. But an apple is still nutritious, and sometimes it’s all I can feed myself. After I eat the apple, I am able to reflect on my ability to nourish my body, and how important that is. I want my brain to function well, and to do this I must give it food. If I recently binged and purged, eating may feel impossible. My thoughts turn to calories and I must do my best to mute those thoughts and move on with my day. Nothing good has ever come from eating disorder behaviors.

3. I contact my dietitian.

When I need a fire lit underneath me, she is the person who manages to do it. She knows what to say, and understands this is a difficult battle other people may know nothing about. We make a meal plan and I make a verbal contract to follow that plan. It is important to have somebody who believes in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. Eating disorder recovery is hard, and having professionals to reflect my work back to me helps me move forward.

4. I make a list of all of the people I love.

I want to be an active participant in my life. Today I can make the decision to show up for the people I care about. Sometimes I must remind myself I cannot be my best self when I am choosing my eating disorder over other relationships. When I spend all of my mental energy on thoughts that are incongruent with the life I want for myself, I am unable to show up for my friends and family. I must put those thoughts aside and focus on those I love. Making a list of people in my life whom I care about allows me to remember my importance as a human being on Earth.

5. I make art.

Being creative allows me to be present and mindful while also creating something beautiful. I am constantly searching for meaning and purpose in my life, and when I make art, I feel like I have achieved those things. It gives me the opportunity to get outside of my own loathsome thoughts and focus on the task at hand: making a messy and fun piece of art. It leaves me with a sense of accomplishment that nothing else does. I often feel refreshed and like I can take on both my internal and external worlds after I complete a painting or poem.

Doing the next right thing allows me to move on with my day without focusing too much on the negative thoughts my eating disorder brings into my mind. These are actions I can take to move towards recovery and further from the hell that was my eating disorder. I may not always feel worthy of recovery, but I am always capable of doing the next right thing.

Originally published: March 26, 2018
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