February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month

recoveryRecovery is possible! Visit our page to find help for your eating disorder

The Rapid Recovery Narrative

“True love is deeply caring for yourself; only then, can you be fully available to love others deeply” Allison Stuart Kaplan

I used to have anorexia, but I’m better now.

I’ve heard that phrase countless times. In our therapeutic culture, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a past history of addiction or illness — as long as one claims to be working on it, or to have recovered.

Many young women with eating disorders feel genuine guilt for not having recovered swiftly enough from an eating disorder. A number of years ago, I remember a friend of mine confided in me her guilt: “It was bad enough when I was a freshman in high school. But that was four years ago, and I’m still struggling with this. I hate my body but I also feel like I’ve used up my allotted time to get help.”

What she and others like her end up with is a classic double bind. On the one hand, they’re still struggling to reach an unattainable ideal, coping often as well with the physical triggers that can drive and sustain bulimia or anorexia. On the other hand, they’re keenly aware of our societal longing for quick recovery narratives of the sort one sees on TV: girl hits puberty, girl develops eating disorder, girl gets help, girl gets better, all in the space of a one-hour program.

The winding road of recovery, replete with often multiple relapses, is much longer and more complex. And while recovery from any compulsion or disorder is rarely rapid, it is especially prolonged and enduring for those with eating disorders.

Many young women have an initial recovery after treatment, and then go “public” (at least to family and friends) about what they’ve been through. They then often get showered with love and attention and praise; parents are grateful that their daughters are “better now.” But so often, when a relationship goes south or the academic pressure builds, or sometimes just “because”, a young woman slips back into an old pattern. Except it’s worse, because now she gets to cope with the shame of relapse. Young women with eating disorders are usually people-pleasers; they’re keenly aware of how worried and disappointed others might be if their initial recovery isn’t sustained.

She feels as if she’s letting everyone down.

There is no simple solution to eating disorders. While an alcoholic can stay away from booze, a person with anorexia or bulimia must eat. And she must do so while bombarded with images and messages she can never entirely escape. Recovery is prolonged and difficult, and to some extent, will always be just a little bit incomplete. The goal is getting to a place where one feels a sense of peace most of the time — and accepts that the bad times may come again.

Healthy recovery means giving people the permission to say “I’m having a hard time… again” without fear of exasperating those around them who wanted a quick and permanent resolution. It means acknowledging that young women are forced to swim through a toxic soup of unhealthy messages, and that sometimes, they’re going to need someone to throw them a life-line. That’s hard for many with eating disorders to accept; so many are perfectionists who idealize self-sufficiency and fantasize about imperviousness to pain.

It’s a long road to recovery and health. And we need to remind ourselves and everyone else that with all addictions, but especially with those around food, relapse is part of that recovery.

Nourish– Cassie

Recovery is possible! Visit our page to find help for your eating disorder - Eating Disorder Resources For Treatment And Recovery

until-its-doneGrieving the Loss of an Eating Disorder

We experience a loss when we are deprived of or have to go without something that we have had and valued, something that we needed, wanted, or expected. When a person makes the choice for recovery, she will have begun the processing of losing her eating disorder. An eating disorder sufferer may go through stages of grief during the recovery process not unlike those experienced when a losing a close friend or when a loved one dies.

Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. What do I mean by “conflicting feelings”? Let me explain with an example. When someone with an eating disorder chooses recovery, that person may feel a sense of relief and freedom to regain their life back. At the same time, that person may realize that they may no longer cling to their eating disorder for comfort or security and are fearful of what’s ahead. When sick for a significant period of time a sufferer may question their ability to create a life without their eating disorder. These conflicting feelings, relief and fear, are totally normal responses in the recovery process.

The process of letting go and moving forward in recovery consists of stages — Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.The grieving process is not linear, but cyclical. Often, sufferers and their supporters vacillate between these stages throughout the recovery process.

Grief is normal and natural, but we have been ill prepared to deal with it. This means we often find ways to avoid grieving–perhaps by denying the loss, intellectualizing about it, keeping busy, using drugs or alcohol, being strong for others, and frequent attempts to get the lost object back. When we allow ourselves to feel these painful feelings, and when we share the grief with safe and supportive others, we able to complete our grief work and thus be free of it. Through grieving the loss of an eating disorder, your life is more open, free, and authentic to your recovery.

Recovering from a significant loss is not an easy task. Taking the actions that lead to recovery will require your attention, open-mindedness, willingness, and courage. To have help in this, you can connect with the safe and supportive staff at Inner Door Center® to help you in your grieving and recovery process. Visit http://www.innerdoorcenter.com or call our office at 248-336-2868 to learn how to have us be part of your recovery team.

Courtesy of Inner Door Center.

Recovery is possible! Visit our page to find help for your eating disorder - Eating Disorder Resources For Treatment And Recovery

Be Sociable, Share!

Related posts:

Love this post? Buy us a coffee to celebrate!

Speak Your Mind