I wish this post could be a fool proof amazing piece of writing which solved the complex and complicated world of recovery for eating disorders – but it won’t. I am definitely not naïve enough to think that my tips or experiences during my eating disorder and recovery are the same as what you have or will go through. Eating Disorders come in so many sizes, triggers, relapses and behaviours that I find a one size fits all approach to recovery is about the stupidest idea in the world. Sure there are proven helpful methods and often we find one another relating with stories and or moments that tie us all into this very club of mental illness but your eating disorder is yours and please trust me when I say your road to recovery is going to look different from everyone else’s. Therefore my tips might spark your interest, connect with you or not be helpful at all that is totally cool. I just am writing about what helped me and just maybe it might help you! So don’t compare yourself to me or anyone else okay? You’re a gem! Which brings me to my first tip …. (These tips could also be helpful for becoming more body positive and increasing your self worth)
1. Work on the idea of letting go of comparing …
I say work on the idea, because for so many of us comparison is this unhealthy drug between now and then, then and now and not easily let go of. For so long we have compared numbers, weights, goals, foods, calories, sizes and of course perhaps the most damaging comparing ourselves against our past, present or future self. Trying to forever gauge where we are on the scale of eating disorders. Comparison in any form, of eating disorders, of treatment, of our recovery, either with one another or within us will lead to one thing – further unhappiness. Comparison is the thief of joy and it will ruin all that you are working towards. Instead of comparing really try to incorporate living less in your head and mind. I love meditations, which have us focus on our direct environment; such as noises, sounds, smells, textures and temperatures. There are so many apps and Internet sources available for this type of grounding work, which really helps me, not compare or think ahead but stay present in the moment I am living.
- Try your best to tell the truth…
Eating disorders and recovery for me was a mess of hiding, secrets, denial and dismissal of the truth. In hindsight the biggest lesson I have learnt is to tell the truth. Be honest to your family, to your friends, to your treatment team and support system. It was the scariest most vulnerable thing I ever did, to just start telling exactly what I had done, or what I was thinking. For a long time I hated it because it undermined my eating disorders power, it took away my control – it made me face the cold hard stone truth. I was sick, I was unwell, I didn’t want to live that way anymore but I didn’t truly believe in recovery. At the same time I was confused, I didn’t think I was bad enough to receive treatment every single cell and piece of help I had received had reinforced that “Normal to Overweight Girls aren’t that sick, or it’s a phase, or you need to try harder”. In the end I realise now more than ever that the times I truly was honest those times I catapulted myself forward – even if I hurt someone, even if I had slipped up, even if I still wanted to desperately hold on to my eating disorder. It is such a hard lesson and I applaud anyone who is in recovery or even still within his or her (their) eating disorder, there is no “right way” to recovery. Yet the truth it truly set me free.
- Surround yourself with the most positive people you can (Even if that’s just your pet… or yourself … or a book character)
For such a long time my eating disorder fed off the negativity created in my life, by me and by the people I surrounded myself with. Honestly I was in a place that I would rather spend time with someone who made me worse, than someone who lifted me up – which just creates this whirlpool of yucky mud you get stuck in. I let people who I should have run as fast as I could from comfort me. I let people who I knew were abusing me continue to abuse me. It was all a cycle of how I truly felt about myself, which was like absolute crap. Having people who cared seemed pointless and well plain scary. I withdrew and when I made the choice to recover I really had to take a hard look at my life and think about the people in it. I started surrounding myself with people who I would choose to be around my best friend. I started making conscious choices to enjoy company of those who cared, who made me laugh, who supported me even if they didn’t understand because most people didn’t. I started researching positive things, not purposefully triggering myself – heck I started Chooselifewarrior. Even if you don’t feel deserving and positive, try to incorporate little things even if it is a positive mantra as your phone background, or flowers in your house. It is the little milestones that help, that comfort, the little changes that change the big.
I know these tips might seem “too easy” or even “too overwhelming” for some people, but they honestly are things I which I had surrender to and gave more of my time doing during recovery and now I try to incorporate them more in my life. Recovery and Eating Disorders are a hell of a battle for many days, weeks, months and years it was a one foot in front of the other just make it to the end of the day to bed kind of life. That’s okay… you take your time, you do what you need to do. Know I am always here, there are so many of us on your side. Even contemplating recovery is a step, and every lapse or relapse you are doing your best. We aren’t perfect but you’re a warrior. A chooselifewarrior.