Deciding to and committing to recovery is amazing and takes a lot of courage and also a lot of strength. It is work, and work that often feels hard before things start to feel easier/better. There are a few things you can do, and a few things that need to be acknowledged about recovery so that you can know what to expect and, hopefully, remind yourself to be gentle with yourself as you go through this process.
To start with the latter here is what you need to know:
- Recovery is ALWAYS Worth It: It allows you to live a life where you get to be happy, authentic and free
- It is Hard: Recovery from an eating disorder requires you to feel and experience things that you have been numbing out or avoiding for a long time. Feeling your feelings is hard but doing so is critical to your success
- Each Step Matters: There is no significant or insignificant step towards recovery. Everything you do – big or small – that is focused on recovery makes a difference and is helping you move towards being well.
In terms of what will make this easier here are a few ideas:
- Ask for Support: Eating disorders thrive in secrecy. Isolation makes recovery so much more difficult and given how overwhelming recovery can be as is, the more people you can have in your corner the better. If you are struggling to find someone who you feel really understands you in your own network, look outside of your circle. Support can look like many different things. Maybe it is a support group, a therapist, or a friend. Whatever it is, keep searching until you find someone that you feel safe with and that helps you move in the direction you want to go.
- Develop A Really Strong Self-Care Practice: Self care is anything you can do for you that nurtures and supports you. For many this would be things like taking a bath, having tea with a friend, reading a book, watching your favorite tv show etc. It is also about doing things that you know benefit you and make your life better even if uncomfortable, like meal planning and taking time to rest. The only thing I recommend with self care is that it can’t be tangled up with your eating disorder. For example, exercise can’t be self care if exercising is wrapped up in your view of your body and/or calorie counting.
- Make Your Recovery Goals Visible: Sometimes when recovery is feeling particularly difficult and uncomfortable it can be easy to forget why we are wanting to recover. Having your recovery goals somewhere where you can see them easily will serve as a reminder to keep going. I recommend having them printed and posted somewhere (fridge, picture board in your bedroom, office etc) and also having them with you in a place that is mobile. For example, having them written in your phone somewhere means you can access them when you are away from the house.
- Listen to Yourself: one of the best things you can do on your journey to recovery is learn to value your own voice and to pay attention to (and prioritize) what you need. Some days you will feel able to push and tackle some challenges. Other days you will need to focus on just staying still because the eating disorder will feel more present and your sole focus needs to be to listen to your healthy side and not your eating disorder. It is normal and okay to have hard days. What makes the difference is tackling those days with a deep breath and a lot of patience, kindness and determination to keep going.
I hope this gives you a few things to focus on while you are on this journey. Again, don’t forget to stop and acknowledge how strong you are and to celebrate each and every thing that you do a long the way.