The tumultuous nature of an eating disorder is a tornado – decimating everything it touches. Unfortunately, dear reader, you may be in the eye of the storm. Watching the turbulent winds uproot your family, your friends, your relationships, your school, your job, your entire life. You want it to stop, and when it does, you realize the storm itself was only half the battle in your eating disorder recovery.
Now, you must work through the clean-up.
If this metaphor is bleak to you, I apologize. My intention is not to depress you, but to be realistic about the incredible challenge I know you are facing in eating disorder recovery while also promising you that, even amidst all of that, there is always hope.
Regardless of the extent of the wreckage or the energy and strength, it might take you to re-build – there can be peace in the process.
Judgment is a huge part of eating disorders. The judgment of the self, the judgment of others, judgment of your experience, the judgment of your role in the world. Individuals with disordered eating thoughts and behaviors are fluent in self-judgment.
This continues in the journey toward eating disorder recovery – judging whether you are recovering fast enough, how your appearance is changing, whether you are worthy of treatment. The list could go on-and-on.
I probably do not need to tell you that all of this judgment is ineffective and that it makes it hard to find peace within recovery. Even so, letting go of judgment is not easy.
A helpful way to begin breaking up with judgments is to challenge them with objective facts. Reframing your judgments as facts will help to get rid of the shame and negativity and look at the situation for what it really is.
For example, “I suck at art therapy” can become “I struggle with my creative side.” Catching your judgments and turning them into a fact can help you to realize you’re really not as bad as your inner critic wants you to think you are.
Increase Your Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability of an individual to engage in the present moment fully and without judgment. Actively engaging in the present moment can help you to release automatic behaviors and thoughts of the past.
It can instead allow you to focus on where your power really lies at this current moment. It also helps to avoid drowning in tumultuous emotions by tuning the focus to what is going on outside of our emotional experience.
Almost anything can become an exercise in mindfulness, and you can use it at any moment in any circumstance, which will go a long way to calming yourself on the eating disorder recovery rollercoaster.
Connect with Wise Mind
A Dialectical Behavior Therapy concept known as Wise Mind can really help to bring you peace. The idea is that we often feed 3 different sides of our mind.
- Emotion Mind involves being completely ruled by our feelings with no logic or fact thrown in.
- Logic Mind involves engaging entirely to reason without considering the human experience or emotions at all.
The sweet spot becomes Wise Mind, where Emotion Mind and Logic Mind combine to include realistic and nonjudgmental views of life while still honoring and considering emotions. Getting to know your Wise Mind can help you to rise above overwhelming moments in recovery and proceed in a mindful manner.
Another concept that leads to inner peace and calm is challenging “acceptance.”
Accept that you struggle with an eating disorder. Accept that you are in treatment. Accept that you are on a challenging journey to eating disorder recovery. Accept that this is something you will be aware of for the rest of your life.
Acceptance means using all of the skills above to look at the present moment mindfully and non-judgmentally and to accept it just as it is. We spend so much time making demands on reality that “it shouldn’t be this way” or “this has not changed.” The truth is, reality doesn’t care what we want.
When we acknowledge this and practice acceptance of reality, we free ourselves from the idea that we can control everything. We step into a world where we do our best to work within it at every given moment.
All of the aspects mentioned are skills because, the truth is, achieving peace is work.
In eating disorder recovery, adjusting our minds to a whole new way of thinking that doesn’t involve judgment and chaos and crises, and, instead, finds peace within the uncertainty and lack of control is hard. But, these skills are valuable in achieving peace and recovery and, ultimately, will benefit you in life as well.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a 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.
Published May 13, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on May 13, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC