Staying Connected to You is the Key to Bulimia Recovery
Article Contributed By: Dr. Gregg Jantz, Founder of A Place Of Hope
If life after inpatient treatment feels foreign and forced, you are not alone. Not only are you discovering a new way of living, but you are also doing so without the structure of the program and people that helped you get to this point.
Certainly, you can and should continue in your therapy, both individual and group. But equally important, you must trust that the key to maintaining recovery from bulimia lies in your constant mindful commitment to staying connected to you.
1) Are you expressing how you feel?
Using food to numb your feelings is no longer an option. This presents you with a remarkable opportunity to allow yourself to feel the wide range of human emotions, as God intended. It starts with acknowledgement: How are you feeling? Then comes the permission to feel that way: It is okay, embrace the feeling. Finally, find a way of giving your feelings expression. Write them down. Put them into your art. Share them with friends and family who will understand, or simply need to know.
The point is, you have a right to your feelings, and it is right for you to feel and express them.
2) Are you developing healthy relationships?
Unfortunately, disordered eating often stems from dysfunctional relationships, past or present. This means mending, modifying or, in some cases, eliminating relationships that hinder your recovery.
At the same time, it is important to be mindful of how you are developing new relationships, as new does not necessitate better. Use what you know of your past relationships to inform how you create new ones. Avoid developing a relationship with anyone whose attitude, words, or behavior triggers you in the negative feelings that fuel disordered eating.
3) Are you taking risks that could be painful?
While it is important to avoid developing relationships with people who trigger feelings of self-doubt, that is not to be confused with situations that scare you.
You may have been avoiding people for so long — out of the shame and guilt of your disordered eating — that it feels second nature to you. This means engaging with family and friends may frighten you. In some cases, there may be a very good reason for that (i.e., a relationship that needs mending, modifying, or eliminating). Thankfully, though, in other cases, your fear will turn out to be unfounded.
In other words, people are going to be a source of pain, but they are also going to be a source of joy. The only way of getting to the good stuff is being willing to risk going through the bad.
4) Are you choosing to respond instead of react?
In the past, reaction ruled your life, as you handed over control to your disordered eating. Fortunately, your behavior need not reflect a mindless, unhealthy reaction. You can choose how to respond instead. The difference is in the control. Reactions are beyond that, when the behavior is controlling you. Inherent in responding, though, is deliberate action.
In any given situation or conversation, acknowledge how you are being compelled to react, find the feeling underneath, remind yourself of the healthy way to behave in this instance, and deliberately do so, regardless of how strong you may feeling yourself being pulled in the reactionary direction.
5) Are you forgiving of those who hurt you?
Even the most loving of family and friends will hurt you now and then. Such is the nature of human imperfection. But the thing about healthy, lasting relationships is that they are deepened by painful challenges that help us evolve as family members, friends, and people.
May this practiced forgiveness of others be something you also learn to extend to yourself? Recovery is no straight line. It is a hilly, curvy road that’s different for everyone. It is okay if you stumble. It is okay if you fall. What matters most is that you get back up and stay on the road to recovery that belongs to you and you alone.
Page Last Reviewed and Updated By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 22, 2013
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com, Resources, Help & Assistance for Eating Disorders