In this emerging blogger post, Burnie of Quash Stigma, Not Fat writes about persevering in eating disorder recovery.
When the going gets tough in eating disorder recovery, you have to keep going. I’ve found myself doubting the recovery process many times, and when i’m in this place I return to my “why choose recovery” list. This ambivalence and doubt is something we often experience in recovery and so I believe it’s important to have something to remind you of your why, or where you’ve come from. People have different ways of doing this, poems, letters, journals or lists etc. For me it’s my journal and list.
I often revisit my journal when I am feeling stagnant in my recovery. I believe journals are unsung heroes.
Being the crappy period between Christmas and New Years, ‘HH’ has been screaming at me to return to old behaviours and throwing curve ball after curve ball at me to try and lure me back it. Trying to remind me I would normally be buying in to the empty diet culture speak and exercise programmes being rammed down our necks by the industry.
Having a major issue with compulsive exercise, I have found the last few days really hard. I genuinely argued with myself for a good 30 minutes before I got in the shower last night if I should sneak in a workout, or if I should stand all day at work today. I’ve not considered standing all day for ages, 7 months to be precise after re-visiting my journal. Chairs exist for a reason. 7 months ago, I would not sit, I would have preferred to walk on broken glass than sit down.
So I needed to read old journal entries. My journal reminded me 10 months ago I was terrified of avocados, almonds and sitting. Reading this entry I would never have envisaged I would be sharing my thoughts, feelings and story in such a public way that I am now. I documented how I couldn’t share how I was feeling, and it kept me locked in to the behaviours. I clearly described sessions I’d had with my therapist encouraging to communicate my feelings and ask for support. Something at this time I simply could not do.
But by gradually chipping away and allowing myself to be vulnerable, I haven’t stood for hours at my desk, when there’s a perfectly good chair. I have shared with my support that I have had a difficult time not returning to behaviours through habit at this time of year. By doing this and asking for help (a hug) , I haven’t engaged in behaviours. I sat my butt down. I realised today was not the day to go for a run, because I felt so much fear and anxiety by not.
But… if this tells me anything… I cannot stop here. Even in the hardest times in recovery, returning is not the way. I have come so far from that post 10 months ago. For starters I bloody love avocado and I rarely go a day without almond butter, but I was petrified of them 10 months ago as well as a great deal more.
I also made a list, which I add to frequently which helps me stay on track when debating recovery. My “why choose recovery” list.
Your list will be different to mine, but I have found this list so instrumental to keeping me motivated to recover even when I’m questioning if it’s worth continuing or if ‘here’s enough’ the answer I find is NO, here is not enough.
One of the items on that list is complete mental freedom from all eating disorder thoughts and beliefs. I know this exists at the end of the recovery, because to go from being terrified of an avocado or standing 24/7 in just months, what else is possible!
Another point on my list is to be able to have deep, meaningful relationships with people I care about without lies or holding back emotions. Since starting recovery, those that have stuck around our relationships are stronger, genuine and open. It is normal to have periods in recovery where you struggle to see the end game, or feel doubtful. It’s normal and 100% ok. But find a way to remind yourself of why you chose recovery and revisit it at the moments where you’re tired of trying, or thinking of going backwards. Read it over and over and keep going!
I am a doctor who has struggled with anorexia for close to two decades. I’m now recovering and working hard to raise awareness around mental health, eating disorders, especially in medicine where stigma is rife. I started a blog to share my lived experiences with the hope of demystifying and reducing the stigma. I named my eating disorder voice Hitchhiker, and I refer to it as “HH” in posts. I write as a way to reach and connect with others who might be thinking about recovery or wanting to learn. I love tea, running and being able to sit and watch Netflix!!
Visit Burnie at Quash Stigma Not Fat.