As with recovering from any mental health issue, recovery from eating disorders is a long and difficult process. Getting better will be full of ups and downs, and you will face more than your fair share of obstacles, so in this post I wanted to talk about a few things that are very important to remember when you go through rough spots in recovery. This is my penultimate post for Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Eating disorders can make you feel alone, and stuck fighting a battle that no one else understands, and these feelings can push you back into your old eating habits. However, that idea has no truth behind it; around 3% of the population have an eating disorder, and that means that millions of other people are in the same position as you, and in a time where the internet makes connecting with others so easy, it is very likely that you will be able to find someone else who is in recovery or fully recovered who would be happy to talk to you about the way you are feeling. Even if you can’t find anyone to keep a conversation with, there are plenty of people out their documenting their recovery online- many bloggers give frequent updates about what they are going through, and YouTubers like Tofu Tommy and Lauren Kenzy also talk about their recovery on their channel. Alice, who runs an Instagram account with over 50,000 followers, was also recommended by a friend of mine.
Also, even if not everyone can fully understand your situation, you will receive a lot of support throughout your recovery from any therapists that you talk to, and your whole care team will have your back. Outside of your therapy sessions, you may be interested in joining support groups for eating disorder sufferers, whether they are in your local area or online. However you choose to deal with the potential sense of isolation, just ensure that it shows you that you’re not recovering alone.
Relapsing is common during eating disorder recovery, and even when in treatment, a patient often finds that they have reverted back to some of their old eating patterns. If this happens to you at some point in your recovery, please don’t see it as a reason to give up on getting better. Almost every eating disorder patient who have reached a full recovery have experienced a relapse at some point, but they continued to be successful because they chose to view relapses as an opportunity to learn from the experience and to improve their skills so they can cope with the relapse next time.
Relapse is a normal part of recovery that can in some ways be helpful- it can help you identify the triggers that caused the relapse and find ways to deal with them next time, as well as employing the coping skills and techniques that you have learned through the recovery process. If you do relapse, it is important that you are honest with your support network and seek help from them, and focus on finding a way to get back on track.
Another obstacle that recovering sufferers face is that many attempts at treatment may not work, and this may make them feel that they have failed, that treatment will never work, and their recovery is hopeless. However, this is far from true. As I talked about in yesterday’s post, there are many ways in which someone can treat their eating disorder, and the only thing that definitely means you won’t recover is if you stop trying. Eating disorders are complex, and treating them can take several attempts because of this. Don’t give up on recovery, give up on an unsuccessful method of treatment, and carry on aiming for better health.
Also, you may feel that it is your fault if a treatment doesn’t work, and blame yourself, but remember that it has done more help than harm. You may not have improved much, but now you know what doesn’t work and can work on other options that will help you more. Treating eating disorders does not have a single path; each person needs to find the specific treatment that works for them. You will move on to an alternative form of treatment, whether it is another form or therapy, medication, or treatment therapy. Although it is understandably frustrating and upsetting for a form of help to be unsuccessful, it is still progress, and you are still recovering. Remember what drove you to seek help in the first place, and start over with a new form of treatment. You are still recovering.
Self-doubt can be the biggest obstacle for eating disorder patients to get around. Overcoming an eating disorder is a very big commitment which is very difficult to manage. During recovery, you may wonder if the result is worth all the work. If this question begins to loom over you, which it likely will, then remember why you chose to start recovering in the first place. You are taking your life back. You are pursuing better health. Your work will be more than worth it in the end. I promise that you will be glad you persevered. Tomorrow’s post will talk about recovery in more detail, and I will include the stories of some recovered eating disorder sufferers to show that recovery is possible, and worth it.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have found this post helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your recovery. Keep growinggg!