Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Today is a special day- it has been six years since I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. Six years since I sat in that hospital bed, unknowing that my life was about to take a roller coaster ride and change forever. That sounds so dramatic, but it’s true. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having gone through all that. I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, but I also wouldn’t change it for the world.
For those still struggling or in recovery- it gets better, it gets SO much better. A few days ago I posted a list of resources for you to utilize while you’re stuck at home.
I wanted to share some things I learned over the years- trust me I’ve learned A LOT, so instead of rambling off everything I’ve learned- I wanted to share six. Six things I’ve learned or realized through treatment and recovery that can be of some advice or insight. (That will hopefully help you along your journey or just make you smile) and not in any particular order!
Recovery Is Not Linear
Treatment and recovery can be UGLY at times. One day you find yourself able to eat all your fear foods, zero anxiety, and tell your eating disorder to fuck off, and the next day it seems impossible to do any of these things and you feel like you’re back at square one. This is completely normal- your eating disorder will fight back every time you push yourself one step forward. Some days it’s so loud it’s unbearable. Just know that you’re working towards a day where your eating disorder will be silenced forever
Food Is Fuel
I know I’m all about nourishing your body with whole, nutritious foods (which you should!) but fuel your soul too. Fill your dinner plate with colorful veggies, but also have that extra cookie after dinner if your body is giving you the green light. There are no “good” and “bad” foods. They’re only bad because your eating disorder made them out to be that way. Your body needs an array of carbs, protein, fat and micronutrients, so listen to your body and remember that it’s smarter than you think.
Practice Self Love Everyday
Just as recovery isn’t linear, self love and body acceptance isn’t linear either. One day you may be so in love with yourself and body, and the next day it’s the enemy. Even on days where you hate yourself and don’t believe it, give yourself a compliment, practice self love and body acceptance. Practicing everyday and being consistent will do wonders in the long run to where those negative thoughts will be less and less frequent and you’ll actually start to celebrate things you love about yourself!
You Can’t Compare Yourself To Others
Stop comparing yourself to other people- in general or in treatment/recovery. Everyone’s journey looks different and has a different timeline. I was in treatment for about three months, whereas others find themselves in treatment for six months. Both journeys and experiences are valid and real. You also can’t compare your eating habits to someone else’s. Every body has individual needs and ways of nourishment. Doesn’t make someone right and someone wrong- both right for that individual!
Share Your Story
I know there can be a lot of shame around having an eating disorder, going to treatment, etc. You hear all the time, “why can’t you just eat? It’s just food.” and you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of explaining to someone the complexity of eating disorders. This happens because our society is lacking education and awareness, and we can partly fix that by sharing our experience and story. Even talking about it to a close friend, it gives them the knowledge and perspective they didn’t have and they can carry that onto someone else who was in the dark about the realities of eating disorders. Don’t be ashamed of your journey or your eating disorder.
Food Isn’t Everything
Our society revolves largely around food. Going out to dinner with friends, happy hour, parties, grocery shopping, going to the movies, etc. etc. I know you’re constantly bombarded by food and calories and conversations revolving around food and calories, but that doesn't mean it has to be YOUR focus. Remind yourself that going to dinner with friends is about the company, happy hour is about the laughs you share, the movies are about immersing yourself into another world for a few hours. Your life doesn’t have to revolve around food and when you find like-minded people, you’re golden.
So today celebrate whatever stage of life you may be in, even if our world is at a stand-still. Celebrate yourself and all you’ve accomplished. I mean you’ve made it this far, right?