We call it “recovery” because the process of overcoming an eating disorder will help you recover things that you have lost due to the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors of an eating disorder.
But “recovery” can also suggest that you are recovering the person you were before the eating disorder. I don’t think that’s true. The work of recovery will not only change your eating disorder behaviors, but it will radically transform who you were before you ever began practicing the restricting or exercising or bingeing and purging. This is for at least two reasons:
- Your eating disorder is rooted in central beliefs about yourself and the world around you that have been there long before the eating disorder thoughts and actions began.
- You can’t go through a process as rigorous as recovery from bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorder and not be fundamentally changed for the better.
I suggest that we think about recovery more like transformation than returning to the ways things were. How does this happen? What does transformation require? I offer at least three things; a willingness to be uncomfortable, an effort to try the “opposite,” and a release of expectations.
A Release of Expectations for Overcoming an Eating Disorder
Whether it is your first appointment with a dietitian or your first day in treatment, leave your expectations at the door.
The job of a professional is to make recommendations that you will likely not want to follow. Those who do best in treatment are not the ones asking for fewer sessions or shorter treatment stays.
A Willingness to Be Uncomfortable
You will be asked questions you never saw coming and give answers you’d rather keep to yourself. If you are going to experience transformation, you will need to take a deep breath and dive in deep.
Though you might be surprised to hear it, up until now, you have been comfortable in your eating disorder. If you are to experience a transformation, you are going to have to get very uncomfortable.
An Effort to do the Opposite
Being uncomfortable can often mean doing the opposite of your normal patterns. If you are quiet, you will need to speak up. If you isolate, you need to join the group, if you restrict, you will need to take in more calories. There’s no way you will overcome your eating disorder without doing the exact opposite of what your brain is telling you to do.
You can do this. Take courage. You can get uncomfortable, survive it, and come out the other side transformed.
About the Author:
Travis Stewart, LPC has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future. Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help. This includes special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, and perfectionism. Specifically, he has worked with eating disorders since 2003 and has learned from many of the field’s leading experts. He has worked with hundreds of individuals facing life-threatening eating disorders in all levels of treatment.
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 September 17, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on September 17, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC