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The Reality of Recovery

Recovering from an eating disorder is not a smooth process. Damage caused to your body and brain can hinder progress as you re introduce new eating habits. It is not as easy as “just eating.” Kicking an eating disorder is as difficult, if not more so, than kicking any other addiction. Take smoking for example. It kills you! there are no benefits to it and in actual fact it’s disgusting. Yet, kicking the habit is excruciating and often takes several attempts. However, as many of you will testify, ex smokers are the most critical of the the habit. As an ex smoker I find the idea that I used to smoke in bed madness! I cannot believe the addiction was so strong and so controlling over my behaviour that I could convince myself that it was in anyway beneficial. Someone who has never smoked, or never attempted to give up smoking, can never comprehend how the transition from smoker to non smoker changes you and the same can be said for those who recover from ED. Something I must make clear though, is that recovery is possible! Unlike other addictions, where abstinence is an option, overcoming an ED requires the ED behaviours to be tackled head on! This is made even harder by the fact that your body and brain are likely to be in a poor condition and you are surrounded by people who make unhelpful comments and discouraging social media. The first thing to do before embarking on this journey is to get yourself a notebook.

Write down all the reasons for recovery. Take your time with this. Write as many reasons as possible, no matter how small.

Then write all the reasons to stay as you are and compare your lists. Hopefully there are either more reasons or a few really important reasons to recover. On my personal journey I found “not dying” and wanting to be a “normal teenager” big motivators! The important thing to recognise is that every now and then the voice for staying the same will be louder than the voice for recovery so, by keeping a list, you can bring your motivation for change back into focus. Then write all of your ED behaviours, it may help to do this with someone close to you who doesn’t suffer with ED as they may be able to identify behaviours that you didn’t realise were abnormal. It’s important to recognise when these behaviours sneak back in but also, it will help you recognise how far you have come when you get to the stage where you have totally ditched some of these behaviours. keep a daily journal of your journey, accept that some days will be better than others, celebrate your good days and reflect on the not so good ones. As you replace the nutrients in your body and brain, notice how your body works more efficiently. You may find you are able to focus more, or that you are less bloated. You may also notice things that you find challenging, for example, you feel more emotional and you struggle to cope with that without relying on ED tendencies. You may find the feeling of fullness uncomfortable and be tempted to revert to purging behaviours. Write it all down, remind yourself that this is all part of recovery and you must take these steps to get to the point where you are able to enjoy eating, manage your emotions and focus on you relationships with people not food. Just like my reflection on being a smoker, I look back to when I was consumed by my ED and I hardly recognise myself! The journey was long, it was exhausting, but my goodness was it worth it!!!!

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