Recovery is, as many people already know, a long journey – but it is not the journey you expect it to be.
In recovery, you don’t tread the same path throughout the duration of your journey – every day that you commit to recovery you commit to new challenges and, with that, new victories.
The progress of recovery comes in incremental changes: one day we don’t feel so much panic when attending social events, one morning we wake up and decide to wear a little more colour, or, perhaps, one afternoon we allow ourselves to relax without being productive and “doing something”. These small steps all add up to big changes and, as Kerrie often says, “nothing changes if nothing changes.”
Keeping your recovery on track involves a few small – but really important – things:
1) Be honest with yourself about the challenges you’re facing
As high functioning as you may be with your illness, it’s incredibly important that you’re honest with yourself about how much you’re struggling. Underneath it all there are tiny red flags waving to grab your attention…give yourself permission to listen to what they are trying to say.
2) Be honest with others about what sort of help you need
The nature of the illness means that there can be a lot of shame tied up in eating disordered behaviours. However, committing to recovery also involves acknowledging the areas that you need support with and asking for help. It doesn’t matter how “impossible” recovery may feel, leave the shame at the door and allow specialists and loved ones to help you take steps forward.
3) Take responsibility for developing and sustaining healthy coping mechanisms
Once you know what coping mechanisms help you in recovery, keep up with them as regularly as possible. Self-care is a recurring act that we must do on a regular basis – regardless of whether you have an eating disorder or not! Set reminders on your phone, carve out time in the mornings, evenings and/or weekends to do what you need to do to keep yourself on track. Be your own best friend in this journey.
4) Monitor the content and messages you absorb day-to-day, tweak where needed
For the duration that we’re awake, every day, we are absorbing information that we internalise and then respond to. A lot of our beliefs and feelings about ourselves are determined by this information, and whilst the information “out there” isn’t all positive, we can control what we decide to read about and watch. Follow accounts that embody a recovery (or recovered) mindset and remember that there is more to life than eating disorders and recovery. Who do you want to be once you’re out the other side? Follow content that inspires these dreams.
5) Check in with yourself and remind yourself of where you want to be, free of the eating disorder
“Recovery” is an ambiguous word as it is and will be different for everyone. You define your story and can put as much time into creating your life as you want. There is no shame in daydreaming, in fact, some will say a vision board is a really helpful activity in recovery. Keep reminding yourself of where you want to be so that every day you wake up you know why you’re choosing recovery.