Working in a Leadership Role While in Recovery: Is It Time to Step Down?

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Stepping down from a leadership position to focus on eating disorder recovery is a brave and difficult choice to make. So, when do you know it’s time to step down and how should you do it?

Making Recovery Your Priority

Recovery and leadership can both be mentally and physically exhausting. It can be tough to give your all when you need to be so immersed in both.

If you find that there is a time that you’re burning the candle at both ends and both roles are suffering, it is time to relinquish your leadership role and focus on your recovery.

You may find yourself at a crossroads between recovery and leadership on your personal journey. If this occurs and you continually put recovery on the backburner to focus on your leadership role, it is time to let go.

Eating disorders are never satisfied with having some of you, they want every aspect of your life. Eventually, the disorder will consume all you do and think, most likely leading to you losing your leadership position, and more.

Prioritizing roles that take away from your recovery will only leave you stuck in a loop of disordered thoughts and behaviors, whereas choosing the road to recovery will lead to many other exciting destinations.

Knowing When and How to Step Down

If you have been balancing leadership and recovery for some time with no progression, it may be time to delve deeper into your recovery efforts. Sometimes doling out your time evenly simply doesn’t work. Know that your recovery may need more focus and be comfortable giving yourself what you need.

Consider these actions when you are stepping away.

Don’t procrastinate. Once you have made the decision to step down, begin taking action immediately. Attempting to juggle both after you have realized you can’t will only lead to further challenges. If you step down at the right time, you leave the door open to come back to that role when you are well again.

Make a plan. Work with those around you to make a clean break from your leadership role. Keeping one foot in and one out of a leadership role will likely cause you more anxiety. Plan how you will transition out, decide on a day when your job is done, and leave with the peace of knowing the role is in capable hands.

FriendshipsFocusing on recovery is the right decision, but that doesn’t mean you won’t miss your role in leadership. Be sure to tap into your coping tools during this process and engage in activities that ease your anxiety and make you feel as if you’re doing something worthwhile.

Letting go of a position and community you enjoyed can be difficult. Numerous studies show that losing a role that was integral to one’s life and identity can be as impactful as the loss of a loved one [1]. Be sure to communicate with your recovery team so that you can process the emotions involved in stepping down.


Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse 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 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.


[1]: Ramsey, H. (2014). Practicing social responsibility by helping severed employees grieve a job loss. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 17:2, 79-86.

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.

Published May 15, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on
May 15, 2017.
Published on