Eating Disorders are difficult to recover from because they’re characterized by disturbed eating habits and rituals, that are consistently repeated, resulting in habitual behaviour. Trying to break this pattern may be complicated due to food being apart of everyday life and a source of nutrition; being unavoidable. We are constantly exposed to foods that we may not be comfortable around or feel are safe to consume, and we may struggle with breaking habits and routine.
Everyday is a challenge, but with these steps forward, we may see an end to our eating disorder.
Admit to the Problem. There will never be an end to the problem if we cannot admit it. It begins with ourselves, followed by our closest friends and family, and finally, the professionals. We should expect tears and hard times from this confession, but must remember that this is the start of something new. Be prepared for it to be an excruciating experience, with an outstandingly beautiful outcome.
Seek Professional Help and Build a Support System. During this difficult time, you will need the encouragement and love of the people that mean the most to you, and the professionals that have been educated on your disorder along with the recovery methods. These people will able to aid the construction of your safety plan, make lists of friends to communicate with and map out coping mechanisms to remain on the recovery path.
Professionals will be able to help with your next steps, whether that be group therapy, eating disorder clinics, meal plans, one-on-one therapy sessions or other options. Try to remain open-minded because, these people are only there to help you.
Don’t Try to Physically Prove Your Eating Disorder. The recovery process can prove difficult when you feel your body mass does not reflect your eating disorder. It is important to recall that your body weight is not the sole evidence or validity of an eating disorder. They are mental illnesses, characterized by a perception of self and food, and not the gap between ones’ thighs.
Do not try to conform your disorder and recovery to that of someone else. Every person is unique, along with their respective disorder, and you should not be trying to emulate anyone else. The focus is you and your recovery; not that of a popular Instagram star.
Be Uncomfortable. Put yourself in situations that you never wanted to face. Go out to that fast food joint with your friends like you’ve been wishing to visit for years; eat in public; let yourself eat “unsafe” foods. This process is about breaking rituals and routines, and to do so, you have to go places and do things out of routine or your comfort zone.
Be logical. Do not expect yourself to eat a burger, fries and drink non-diet soda in your first outing, as it may be overwhelming and throw off your recovery. Take baby steps whilst continuing to progress. Go at your pace.
Don’t Hide Any Feelings from Your Supports. If you are struggling to eat a meal, and your friend confronts you, don’t pretend your refusal is from a tummy ache. Be upfront and tell them that this specific meal is very hard for you, and that you will need time and patience to conquer it.
When you feel upset about your body, or sense a relapse occurring, speak up. Voice your feelings of lack of control and be honest regarding the trigger. Keep open communication and always be honest.
Be Strict with Your Boundaries. Do not let someone disturbed drag you back into your disordered eating habits. There are people who will want to discourage you, act as if you look healthy and don’t need recovery, but they are wrong (according to you, your loved ones and medical professionals). If they are a disturbance to your recovery, you need to cut them out and no longer give them the time of day.
Don’t Let Yourself Skip Out on Important Appointments. It doesn’t matter if there’s a concert or a cool party, you cannot skip out on important therapy sessions and clinic dates. You will be diservicing yourself, and nobody wants you to do that.
Relapse Is Practically Inevitable. Be rational and expect there to be difficult times, relapses and feelings of regret regarding confession, but you must remember that you do not want to live like this anymore. Your eating disorder was never a friend or a healthy process, and it wants to destroy you. The best thing you can do for yourself is fight it.
Ride the relapse thoughts and behaviours, challenging it at every chance you get. Do not let yourself spiral. Keep your recovery in control, and consistently remind yourself the reasons you chose recovery.
Loving Your Body Will Not Be An Everyday Occurrence. Some days, you will look in the mirror, proud of the weight you’ve gained and the way it looks on your frame, and other days, it will be your biggest nightmare. Understand that those negative feelings regarding your body are fueled by the eating disorder, and not a healthy mind. Your body is beautiful, it’s healthy and it’s on its way to recovery.
You Are Not in a Race; Pace Yourself. Do not let yourself be affected by the hoards of others in recovery. They are not you, their experiences and feelings are different, and their recovery will reflect this diversity. You cannot expect yourself to attain a goal made for someone else. This recovery is yours, and yours alone. It is not a competition, it is not a race; it is your life.
You cannot expect perfection in a process like this. Be reasonable, be understanding of your limitations and goals, and don’t give up for anybody or anything.
Remember; you will recover and this eating disorder will be history.