Because of the nature of eating disorders, these diseases are chronic and require ongoing vigilance to sustain recovery for the long-term.
While the necessary treatments and interventions for recovery will not necessarily be the same in the later years of recovery compared to the earlier phases, there is still a necessity for ongoing support and connections to help should relapse episodes occur.
The Possibility of Relapse in Eating Disorder Recovery
While nobody in recovery wants to experience a relapse in their journey, it is unrealistic to expect that this is something that might not be faced at one point or another. While complete remission from eating disorder is possible, there are also reasons to suggest that long-term remission can be interrupted by a lapse into old eating disorder behaviors. This does not by any means indicate that a person has failed or is not longer able to achieve recovery. Adjusting the perspective to understand relapse episodes as part of the recovery journey can help put these experiences into a framework that better supports overall recovery efforts.
Understanding Individual Triggers
A helpful way to possibly prevent relapse episodes is to understand and anticipate triggers that may influence eating disorder behaviors in years to come. Sometimes, when a person has been in recovery for a significant length of time, it can become easy to drop a protective guard, forgetting about ways to proactively keep recovery efforts ongoing. One aspect to consider is how transitional time periods in life can be triggering to an eating disorder, even one that has been dormant for a significant amont of time. Things like going to college, starting a new job, marriage, having children, losing a job, losing a loved one – all these life changes can bring about intense emotions and feelings.
Even with the strongest and most positive coping skills, life can be unexpected at times. It is important to have a means of support and ways to connect with others, even if you may not necessarily need it. There are times that change can be anticipated and other times when it is unexpected – and the eating disorder will always be there as a tangible way for coping or soothing, even if this has not been the case for several years.
The more you are able to plan ahead, by having positive outlets, maintaining coping skills and staying connected to support, the better you will be able to deal with potential triggers that come along, even in long term recovery. If you find yourself isolating and withdrawing from loved ones or having increased obsessive thoughts about food or your body, these are red flags that should not be ignored. Talk with a loved one and keep your recovery a priority throughout your life.
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work and nutrition private practice.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 13, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com