Trigger Warning: eating disorder behaviors
THREE MONTHS BEHAVIOR FREE!!
December 9th, 2016, marks exactly 3 months since the last time I engaged in an eating disorder behavior. Let me take a moment to express how genuinely proud I am of myself!! This is the longest chunk of time I’ve been without behaviors in a very long time. That’s a damn big accomplishment.
I remember the days when I thought, “Fuck it, I’ll just binge. It doesn’t matter. I’m clearly never going to be in recovery for any length of time. I’m not strong enough to fight this thing, so who cares, I sure don’t.” If you’re reading this and thinking wow that’s how I feel currently. Let me be the first to say that you are stronger than your eating disorder, recovery is possible, you matter and you are worth it! Believe me, I know it can be tempting to just give up because of all the demons in your head. But please, don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Anyone can achieve recovery. Anyone can heal their relationship with food. Anyone can repair their relationship with their body. Anyone can conquer their eating disorder.
Recovery is like a roller coaster, I’ll admit to that. It’s in no way been a continuous path upwards, far from it in fact. Also, just because you may have relapses or slips, doesn’t mean that you failed and are no longer in recovery. Everyone views recovery differently. Some may think that it means absolutely no slips, that it’s just a never-ending elevator going up. But the way I think about it feels more realistic to me. I view recovery as the effort, more than the outcome. How hard are you genuinely trying to fight your eating disorder? How badly do you want to be free from eating disorder behaviors? Are you willing to stand back up and fight after a relapse? Do those slips just add motivation to your already existing reasons for wanting recovery? I acknowledge and accept that slips and even relapses are a part of recovery. I hate to break it to you, but recovery is an elevator that sometimes goes up, sometimes goes down, sometimes may even get stuck for a little bit, before going up or down again. That’s the honest truth of what it looks like.
There will be days where you follow your meal plan perfectly, days where you eat way more carbs than fruits and vegetables. There will be days where you engage in a healthy amount of exercise, and days where you overdo it. There will come a time where you just want to watch Netflix all day and could care less about exercising. There will come a time when you no longer need to follow a meal plan because you’re stable enough to eat intuitively. There will be days where you look in the mirror and still hate what you see. There will be days where you like parts of your body. There will be days where you like your body for a couple of hours. Then there will come a time when you look in the mirror and love what you see. There will come a time where you may not love your body every single day, but you at least accept that this is what it looks like, and that’s perfectly okay. There will be days when you wear baggy sweatpants and a sweatshirt because you want to hide your body from the world. There will be days where you wear your favorite jeans, a cute shirt, your favorite boots, and you strut confidently everywhere you go. There will be days where you think, “Wow I look incredible!” and want to take a hundred pictures of yourself.
As Demi Lovato says, “Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that it doesn’t get a day off.” Demi knew what she was talking about when she said that. Just because I’ve been behavior free for 3 months now, doesn’t mean that I have it easy now. There are still several days a week when I have strong urges to binge. I’m still working on getting into a good routine with exercise/movement that works well for myself and my schedule. I’m still working on what exactly appropriate portions of food look like. I’m still working on trying to eat more frequently throughout the day. I’m constantly working on repairing my relationship with my body. I’m constantly working on reminding myself that I deserve to take care of myself, that I’m worth it. I’m still working on a LOT of aspects of my recovery. It’s an everyday job, and some days are better than others. But the important part is that I wake up every single day, wanting to fight for my recovery, wanting to fight for my mental health, wanting to be the best version of myself I possibly can be. I wake up determined to continue making progress. I wake up knowing that if I do have a slip, I need to work that much harder to prevent those from happening. I know that I can’t let those be reasons to give up but to put more effort into my recovery.
Another one of my favorite quotes that I discovered only within the last couple of months is from Geneen Roth. She said, “When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart.” I can relate to this quote so much. Food was my safety net. It was what I used to cope when I was stressed, sad, or feeling most any strong emotion. I wouldn’t even say just negative emotions, because sometimes if I was really happy I wanted to reward myself with comfort food. But eventually, I realized that food wasn’t actually solving my problems. In fact, it was making my problems worse. It would make me zone out and disconnect from my mind and body to the extent that it gave my head a break from the continuous thoughts. But it was only a temporary relief. It didn’t actually solve anything. So I eventually thought that if I spent more time dealing with my problems and getting down to the root of where they came from, rather than avoiding them, perhaps I would actually feel more free from my mind. While that process is in no way easy, because let’s face it, dealing with strong emotions and difficult problems is in no way a fun or enjoyable task. However, it’s extremely important, and much more effective than avoidance.
I have another favorite quote that represents that moment I had the shift in my mindset. The quote comes from the inspirational Demi Lovato (shocker, right?) Demi said, “One of the scariest moments in life, is when you come to the realization that the only person that can save you is yourself.” Once you understand that running to people for help won’t ultimately solve the problem, you feel scared, but you feel relieved. Of course, treatment centers and therapists are wonderful and can be crucial parts of recovery. But they can’t do the work for you, they can’t force you to change your behaviors and your mindset, that’s ultimately all up to you.
Wherever you’re at in your recovery process, you should be proud of yourself. You haven’t given up, you’re fighting, you’re doing the best you can, and that is a huge accomplishment in itself, regardless of the results. Recovery IS possible, and it will change your life for the better.
I would just like to say one more time how incredibly proud of myself I am for how far I’ve come. The fact that I’ve been behavior free for 3 months now is amazing, and something absolutely worth celebrating. I don’t admit to being proud of myself as much as I probably should be. But today I really, truly, am so proud of myself, and that feels incredible to say and genuinely mean it. Here’s to many, many more months of being behavior free! 🙂