I am going to start this blog by clarifying something from the get go:
Simple in my world means it isn’t complicated to understand, there is nothing more to it besides exactly what is being said, it is clear cut, almost a “what you see is what you get” kind of thing.
Easy in my world means it isn’t challenging or difficult to do.
Now that I have gotten that out I am here to talk about something that has been coming up with my clients in my Vancouver counselling office a lot lately.
When it comes to eating disorder recovery I hear a lot about the things people want to be able to do. For example, they want to be able to eat foods outside of their “safe list,” they want to feel like they can go out with their friends and enjoy a meal, they want to stop dieting and obsessing over the scale etc. This list can go on but it gives you an understanding of some of the things our eating disorder robs us of.
The challenge when we have an eating disorder is that we often tell ourselves that we “can’t” do these things because they are too hard. I believe what it comes down to is making a decision as to whether you are going to prioritize the needs of your eating disorder or prioritize the needs of your relationships/your life/your recovery. During recovery, many of these things are so far off from easy and yet when you look at them they are simple. It is okay for these things to be hard and challenging. Having an eating disorder is also hard and challenging. The question isn’t about whether or not you are able to do it (You are!) but rather what you want to prioritize.
Let’s use the example of trying something that isn’t on your safe food list. This isn’t an easy thing to do to begin with. Your eating disorder is going to tell you all kinds of stories as to why you shouldn’t do it, your anxiety is going to be high and you will likely feel overwhelmed before you even start. Nobody likes experiencing any one of those things. And yet we know it’s not a complicated thing to do. It means you stop by the grocery store and you pick up a food item that you would like to try, you purchase it, bring it home, prepare and eat it. What it comes down to is what you are going to prioritize. As scary as it is to eat foods that don’t feel safe, it will also be really liberating to get your life back and not have your eating disorder continue to take things from you.
So prepare yourself by spending some time reflecting on what you want to prioritize. Perhaps write it down somewhere and reflect on it each morning. Take this day by day and start by making changes that are simple even if they aren’t easy. If you do this one step at a time but remain committed to it the anxiety, feelings and nasty thoughts will eventually release. As someone who has walked this journey I know how hard it is but also know that the only way to recover is to go through it, not to avoid it. So take some time to think. Are you going to prioritize the things that really matter to you or are you going to prioritize your eating disorder?
I would love to hear your answer so post it in the comment section below!
I read your post and as simple as these actions can be ” stop by the grocery store, pick up a food item, purchase it, bring it home, prepare and eat it” one important part that is not mentioned in your blog is how bad the person can feel after actually eating. Anxiety, regrets, bad thoughts can be so overwhelming that… it is not actually that simple to do!
Thanks for your comments. You are right in that it isn’t easy at all. These things cause so much anxiety and so many feelings that it can leave us feeling frozen. I did my best to try to clarify the difference between something being simple and something being easy. I think recovery is truly one of the hardest things to do in your life and yet some of the acts of recovery aren’t complicated in nature (physically most of us are able do these things) but rather complicated/challenging/overwhelming emotionally and mentally. I believe that sometimes we have to challenge ourselves and learn to deal with the anxiety, thoughts and feelings in a healthy way in order to make steps towards recovery. It is really hard to do and yet if we don’t challenge ourselves in some capacities to work on our recovery, it doesn’t seem to get easier.
Thanks so much for your post and for starting this conversation,