What Eating Disorder Survivors Want You To Know About Recovery
One thing that is pretty constant among all addictions is life after recovery. You get clean. But then, you have to work hard to continue staying so. Sadly, a part of you might always crave the thing you used to be addicted to.
An eating disorder is no different. You "beat" your disorder and claim to have a "success story."
But honestly, a full recovery might not be obtainable. Once you get to a place where you aren't completely controlled by your disorder, that might unfortunately be the closest to recovery you'll ever get.
Like it or not, it will be something you will fight and struggle with every day. You'll be haunted by the power it used to have over you, all the while living in fear that it will strike and take control once again.
So, what happens afterward? What happens once you've beaten the disorder?
Here are four things you need to remember during and after the recovery process:
1. Buy yourself a new wardrobe.
Chances are that now you've developed healthier eating habits, your body will be changing. It's difficult seeing the figure you've controlled for so long changing into something you have less control over.
Accept your new body for what it has become. Let go of all the old expectations you had for yourself.
Your clothes might not fit the same way. In many cases, they may not fit at all.
Now, you have the perfect excuse to go and buy yourself a new wardrobe. Shopping spree, anyone? Let go of all the unrealistic images you held for your old body. Start dressing in a way that is flattering to your new one.
Buy that dress you've always wanted. Dress yourself in pretty clothes that show off your new, unique figure.
Wear whatever the hell you please. It's time to start showing off that new, rocking body of yours.
2. Reach out to others.
You're not alone in your struggles or your recovery. Never forget that there are plenty of other people who have gone through what you have. Some of them may still be going through it.
Reach out to them. Hear their stories. Tell them your own. Let your battle empower you instead of hold you back. Realize that there are other people who have gone through stories that are similar to yours. Connecting with others who have experienced this same pain will help you realize you're not alone in this battle.
Your past has made you the beautiful person you are today. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed about your history because it has helped create the person you have become now.
You've overcome something extremely difficult. Feel proud about that.
Frankly, at first, I was hesitant about sharing my story. I didn't want people to think of me any differently.
I was scared of the comments and judgments that would come along with it all. But the support I've received has been incredible. It made me realize how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who care about my health. It also opened my eyes to how many of my friends and acquaintances have been struggling with this same issue.
3. Set time limits on your workouts, but not on your food.
Do the opposite of what you might be used to. Set limits on your workouts, but not on your caloric intake.
Go to the gym with the intention of only working out for a reasonable amount of time. Once your time is up, wipe off the sweat and leave your daily fitness at that. Do not overwork yourself just to burn off a few extra calories. It's really not worth the unhealthy effects it could possibly have on your body later on in life.
On the contrary, eat whatever you want. Just make sure to do so in reasonable limits.
Try not to fall back into the pattern of restricting and counting calories. Eat healthily.
Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. The key is to make sure you're actually consuming enough of the right types of foods.
Food equals energy. Make sure you're providing your body with the sustenance and fuel it requires.
4. Realize you will still struggle with your body.
From what I have gathered, I'm not sure if full recovery is possible in my situation. Even though you might have beaten your eating disorder, you will still struggle to find peace with your body. Just like any other addiction or mental health disorder, recovery is difficult.
Recovery is everlasting. You might find yourself having "withdrawals," unintentionally counting calories and working out for too long. As is similar to any other type of rehab, forgive yourself for your mistakes and move on. Try not to let little setbacks turn into big ones.
A part of you will always carry around that little "eating disorder" voice inside of you. It will always be present in the back of your head. It will try to regain its power and control over your life.
But now, you have learned how to not let it do this. This is the most important aspect of all.
Acknowledge that it's still there. Accept that it will probably always be there.
But then, ignore it. Never give it another moment of your time. As long as you never let it have any more power over you, you will be free of its grasp.
Always remember: You are stronger than your struggles. You are greater than your weaknesses.