If you deal with an eating disorder (ED), it's no secret that the holidays can lead to heightened stress—both for you and for those in your support network. However, when you take the time and effort to communicate your specific ED recovery needs to loved ones, it can reduce the tension and help you feel more at ease this holiday season. Not to mention, once friends or family members know what your ED recovery needs are, they will be able to offer the right kind of support, reassurance, encouragement, and accountability.
When I was new to eating disorder recovery, I thought it would dominate my life. I thought about it all the time. I was in constant fear that I'd somehow fail, and fall back into the grips of the disease, and lose sight of why I was trying so hard to get better in the first place. Everything I read about eating disorder recovery made it seem like it was a lifelong, grueling, exhausting battle. It turns out that statement was only partially correct. Yes, eating disorder recovery is a lifelong process, but it is not a process that will dominate your life.
November is officially here, which means now is the time to create an eating disorder (ED) recovery action plan for the holidays. This season can be a minefield to navigate with an eating disorder, no matter where you're at in the healing process, so it's crucial to determine in advance how you will prioritize eating disorder recovery in the midst of whatever triggers you face these next couple of months.
I've already written about exercise in eating disorder recovery, but what I have not written about, specifically, is the role of strength training in eating disorder recovery. Everyone's road to recovery is different, but for me, taking the emphasis off weight loss through cardiovascular training and putting it on becoming stronger through resistance training was life-changing.
Just recently, I noticed something beautiful unfold within me: eating disorder recovery taught me to love my inner child after decades of rejecting her. This did not materialize overnight, but now it feels like coming home to a version of me who remembers a time before anorexia first lurked onto the scene.
Eating disorders are deadly but also treatable mental illnesses. Still, in my early struggle to recover, there were many common eating disorder treatments that didn't work for me. Understand, I am not saying that they don't work for anyone. On the contrary, they work for countless people who suffer. This said, there is no one road to recovery, and I write this blog post in the hopes of inspiring people who haven't had any luck with traditional eating disorder treatments to keep going.
If I had to wear a name badge in public each day, it would announce to everyone around me: "Hello, my name is Perfectionist." This might seem vain or self-important, but in truth, it's debilitating because perfectionism is a roadblock to eating disorder recovery. The merciless expectations of achievement, the rigorous standards of appearance, and the continuous loop of self-deprecation can form just the right conditions for an eating disorder to take root. Therefore, to heal from an eating disorder, the roadblock of perfectionism must be overcome. This is hard work—but so necessary and worthwhile.
Synonymous with gorging oneself on immense quantities of food and drink, for those of us in eating disorder recovery, Thanksgiving can be a stressful time. However, you don't have to suffer. There are some simple ways you can navigate Thanksgiving in eating disorder recovery, and they all involve one key strategy.
The year 2020 has been stressful and overwhelming across the entire globe. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial injustices, the political tensions, and the economic downturn, my level of anxiety builds each time I read the news or log into social media. This information overload can exhaust my mental health, but as I continuously must remind myself: stress does not justify an eating disorder relapse.
Being pregnant can be mentally and emotionally challenging enough, but being pregnant with an eating disorder is especially challenging. When I found out I was expecting my first child, I was still struggling with my eating disorder. However, I still managed to have a healthy pregnancy and child.