The end of the year is often a time of reflection. People may reflect on what they would like the upcoming year to bring and the past year’s events. For those in eating disorder recovery, this reflection might include looking back on the steps you’ve taken that have brought you close to a recovered life.
All progress is progress and should be celebrated. At the same time, eating disorder recovery is a process. Sometimes the process can be really overwhelming and may take a long time.
This may be especially true if an eating disorder has been part of your life for a long time or if you are conflicted about whether you really want to recover or not.
These certainly aren’t the only reasons that the recovery process can be overwhelming or time-consuming. Recovery is hard! Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
If you are feeling discouraged looking back at the last year and the influence an eating disorder has had on your life in 2020, take heart! Here are some tips on how to reflect so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel:
Ask For Feedback on Eating Disorder Recovery
Sometimes it can be hard to see ourselves accurately. This is the same for the healing process.
It can be helpful to turn to a trusted friend, family member, or treatment professional to ask for their perspective on your progress. Sometimes other people can see our progress more clearly than we can. Let other people’s reflections be a source of encouragement for you.
Reflect on Self-Care
Self-care is a popular topic among mental health professionals. Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself and pouring energy back into yourself.
We all need this, and we may need more during times of more stress. 2020 has been a stressful time for everyone, and adding eating disorder recovery on top of the societal stressors this year has brought is a recipe for exhaustion.
Often people think of self-care as a hot bath and a face mask. While this certainly is an example of self-care, there are actually multiple aspects of ourselves that need to be cared for on a regular basis. As human beings, we are more than just physical beings. Simply put, we have a spirit, mind, and body.
Each of these areas often suffers as a result of eating disorders. While it may be easier to see how disordered eating or abusive exercise is an attack on the body, these conditions also attack the mind and spirit. For example, many people say that their eating disorder is in direct conflict with some of their values.
Eating disorder recovery is an invitation to reconnect with yourself. Recovery is about more than stopping disordered behaviors. While this is crucial, healing is actually about become a whole person .
It can be helpful to look back on what things you did this year to nurture yourself. Even if you continued to struggle with your eating disorder, maybe you started developing other aspects of yourself by taking a class or taking up a new hobby.
If you started treatment or reached out to a treatment professional, this is a way that you are taking care of yourself. Every act to take care of yourself is a step closer to your recovered life. Celebrate this!
Trust the Process
The recovery process isn’t linear . This means that it often is a process of ups and downs. If you are in a period of feeling like you’ve regressed, remember that it is impossible to go back to square one.
Progress isn’t lost once if you relapse. Relapse can be like a slingshot. The farther back you go each time, the more you can propel yourself forward. This is because if you’ve ever made progress, you’ve learned things about yourself and how to cope with this condition. These insights are never lost.
Recovery is always within reach. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, there is hope for you. Promise.
Resources: Costin, C. & Schubert Grabb, G. (2012). 8 keys to recovery from an eating disorder. W.W. Norton & Company.  A. Florio, personal communication, December 17th, 2020.
About the Author:
Samantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.
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 December 22, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on December 22, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC