"What was most helpful to you when you first started in recovery?"
"What tips can you give someone who is just starting to recover from an ED?"
These are two questions I am asked often once someone learns of my history with anorexia, especially when they know someone who is also struggling.
While I could easily create a long list to answer these questions I want to share my top 5 most helpful recovery tips. I can thank my therapist for most of these...
(my) Recovery 101... Top 5
- Name your ED: When my therapist told me this one I wanted to laugh in her face. Give my anorexia a name. Hmmmm can you say weirdo??? Well I decided I had nothing to loose and so I went for it. Instead of giving the disease a traditional name like Norma or Gene I just named it ED (which is why I always refer to it as this on the blog). So anytime that I struggled mentally I could stop and say quite firmly "This is ED talking to me right now and she is not my friend," or "ED I am not listening to you any longer!!" or "ED you totally suck." I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. I will say I got a few really strange looks standing in the aisle of the grocery store when having a conversation with myself over purchasing the skim milk vs. the 2%... but hey... the point is I walked away that day with the 2%. Take that ED.
- Fake it Till You Make it: Ok I know what you are thinking, this sure sounds a little cliche. Well it is but honestly this was HUGE for me at the beginning. When I first started in recovery I did not want to be in recovery. I knew I needed to make serious changes but I did not want to make these changes. At. All. Even though I was the one initiating recovery I had a BAD attitude. Weird right? Well maybe not so much. Think about it...If I were to wait until I felt ready to act, ready to make a change, ready to gain weight, etc it would have NEVER happened. I had to just bite the bullet, take that first step, and force myself to ACT. What I found is that eventually, over time, my actions were followed by genuine feelings. After a few weeks of making a particular change I found that this change became my new normal. This change felt right, good, and essential for my improved well being. And once one change became my new normal, it was that much easier to just ACT on another change that needed to happen. And so continued a very healthy cycle.
- Give yourself time to pursue God: During the darkest time of my ED I basically shut God out of my life. Closed the door on Him & locked the key. So when it came time for recovery, naturally, I was MAD at Him, mad that He allowed me to get so deep in the disease and mad that I now had to face my fears and take action. I did not want to talk to Him about my recovery. I did not want to pray for guidance, read scripture for comfort, or try to listen to His voice. Sounds awful but this is just where I was at the beginning. And you know what. . . I really think God understood. He knew I was not ready to embrace Him. He was right there, waiting, just as he was for the two years where I chose to befriend ED over Him. What I found is that once those changes (that I spoke about in #2) became easier and my new normal changed, I found myself slowly longing to renew my relationship with the Lord. Give yourself time & don't expect that once you decide to recover you will feel all warm and fuzzy with the Lord. This might happen for some people and if so more power to ya, but it was not the case for me.
- Beautify yourself: Sounds ironic that I would add a tip like this to those trying to recover from a disease that focuses on outward appearance. But hear me out. When I started gaining my weight back I had to do little things that made me feel beautiful on a daily basis (non weight related). I got a fresh haircut, got a manicure and/or pedicure on a (more) regular basis, bought a new great smelling body lotion, and spent time each day getting dressed, putting make up on, etc. If I felt "put together" on a daily basis I was more likely to continue making the recovery changes needed. I noticed a direct correlation on the days that I allowed myself to sit around in my frumpy Pj's vs. the days I got up and got ready. I was a lot more likely to eat that scary high calorie meal on the days that I felt "beautiful" than on the days that I did not.
- List physical and psychological benefits of life without ED: During one of my early therapy sessions my therapist challenged me create a list of both physical & psychological benefits of my life without ED and bring these to her at our next session. I taped both lists on my bathroom mirror where I knew I would see them everyday and could repeat these things to myself over and over and over. This tip was HUGE for me. It made me realize just how much ED had stole from my life & gave me a daily focus of all I could gain back if I continued to pursue recovery. (I hope to create a post soon where I share both of these lists).
These tips are specific to my ED recovery, although I do believe they can overlap to most any struggle in life. What do you think? Can these Top 5 be applied to your life?
What are your Top 5? Make it a great day!
What are your Top 5? Make it a great day!