Recovery from an eating disorder is different for everyone. It is important to remember that recovery is hardly ever a straight forward process. Some people say that they will always need to find ways to cope with thoughts about the eating disorder so that it doesn't affect their behaviour, and others find that once they have fully recovered they never have these thoughts.
It is common to feel conflicted about recovery because an eating disorder is often a way to cope with difficult feelings and emotions that have made you feel in control.
In this section, people who have experienced eating disorders share some personal stories about our own journeys to recovery, and what has helped them.
What if by R
What if you could go back to a time when the simple act of eating wasn’t followed by torment.
What if thoughts of food no longer consumed you?
What if, you could enjoy food and drink while the critic in your head stayed silent?
What if the shame, guilt, & fear was replaced with pride; self-compassion and love?
What if you came to realise that you are enough, and you are loveable just as you are?
What if you resolved your past traumas and healed the relationship you have with yourself?
What if you no longer had to avoid people and places because of your preoccupation with food and how you feel?
What if, you were free?
If you are anything like me, maybe you are thinking; what if recovery will never work for me. What if I can’t get over this. What if, I don’t want to get over this even though I know I should? What if I’m not sick enough for recovery? Taking a step towards recovery requires a huge leap of faith and courage. And the honest truth is that it will only work for you, if you truly want it to. That’s the bit that is difficult; going back and forth between letting go and holding on.
Living with an Eating Disorder maybe normal to you now; an integral part of who you are. Your companion. It may have once served you well and helped you through a really difficult time and perhaps continues to do so. Despite all of this, if you are looking into the idea of recovery then there’s a part of you that is not happy with the way things are. What if, you listen to that part of you, maybe that’s the real you? The you that knows the Eating Disorder is destroying you and stopping you from living life the way you truly want to.
What if, you connect with this part of you and move towards making a change. This is what I’m doing, and honestly, I don’t know if it will work out well for me. I do know that since I have engaged with EDSOT I’ve come to understand more about myself and my Eating Disorder and it’s been long, but the pieces are beginning to fit together and I’m moving more towards letting go than holding on. Reaching out has been so hard but so necessary; the team really know how to hold you in a safe space, and move at your pace, starting from wherever you are at.
That’s one of the things that really stands out to me the most, their commitment to you and sticking with you even when you feel you are not worth it. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done without this support. I’m a Black woman of African descent and food plays such a big part of our culture and how we connect with one another. Struggling with eating can be really isolating as it isn’t easily understood in my community so the propensity to suffer in silence is stronger.
Many people with the same ethnicity as me don’t engage in services due to stigma and how many BAME groups conceptualise mental health problems. In my personal experience, my struggles with mental health have been viewed as spiritual problems rather than medical. Further to this; the strong Black woman stereotype has been a barrier to me seeking help. How can a strong Black woman over the age of 30 have issues with food? Thankfully the service is really inclusive and it doesn’t matter who you, how old you are or where you are from, the whole of you is embraced and seen without exception. Eating disorders do not discriminate and neither does the service.
The Eating Disorder part of me tries to sabotage my recovery, it tries to convince me that it doesn’t even exist and I question whether this is in fact true. Engaging with my psychologist is so helpful because she shines a light on the ways I’m being deceived. Our sessions help me to see my reality, and this has been valuable to me accepting that recovery is needed, motivating me further to continue with treatment. My journey is not over yet, and I still think; what if, this is all just a waste of time (Eating Disorder voice). But I also think; what if, I persevere and it actually works. Recovery is possible, and if I don’t give it a go, I will never find out (my voice).
What if; you did the same?
My thoughts are their own but are mine for controlling. Some thoughts can be toxic. They can change the way I behave. Some thoughts are good and can also change the way I behave. My thoughts have me like a puppet on a string. Sometimes I need a break from my thoughts. And sometimes I get lost in my thoughts. Sometimes I fight with my thoughts and sometimes they win. But the thing is about thinking is, it can be changed.
The way you think about things, and what you think about. Change the negative thoughts to positive ones. Change the thoughts into actions. If I feel down, I know that there are things that I can do to make me feel better. Ease my mind and quieten the bad thoughts. Think about the new thing I am doing and how I can learn from it. There is a whole new world inside your mind. Just like the world we live in, there are dark corners, tunnels and paths. Its important to remember that there is always another path to take, another route to go, avoiding the darker places and focusing on the light, living and being alive.
“Never have I dealt with anything more difficult than my own soul.”
Today I will:
• Control my thoughts, focus on what I’m grateful for.
• Take care of myself mentally, physically and spiritually.
• Take steps towards accomplishing my goals.
• Not rush myself and take a break when needed.
Motivation is a very important part of this process as you need the motivation to change the way you think and also behave. It is not easy, and it is a constant battle.One day you might have motivation but the next day you might not have any.
The services can’t give you the motivation but they can help you find the motivation within because even though it is a hard battle and most of the time you might feel alone you just have to remember you are not alone and it is ok to admit you are struggling and it is ok to ask for help.
Make a change.
Invite others in to help.
Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting
Action changes things.
Tough times don’t last.
It’s a slow process but quitting won’t speed it up.
Only you can make the change.
No one is you and that is your best superpower.
I used to be afraid of recovering.
When I look back now I see how far I’ve travelled. Years, months, weeks, days.
Begging my mind to work in a different way.
Imagine it like you’re in an old car. Parts are falling off and some stop working. You keep breaking down. But along the way there are people who help. Who fix the broken parts even if they may break again.
You can go back and get them repaired. You can get help.
And soon enough your car runs smoothly enough to continue your journey.