Starting this blog, one can’t help but reflect on the plethora of content that has been written for people struggling with eating disorders, particularly during covid-19.
There’s an amazing energy towards supporting one another with an honest understanding and respect for what it’s like to be isolated with an illness that’s so often characterised by some form of isolation already.
We read this content because we want help and hope – that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we, ourselves, will be able to make it to the end of that tunnel and be safe and, hopefully, happy along that the way. There’s a commitment to doing the “right thing” for our recovery, even when the eating disorder voice is loud and overwhelming (…let’s take a moment to appreciate your patience and resilience during those days).
Often, there’s so much anxiety and panic in the experience of having an eating disorder and all the while these feelings are centred around wanting to do this “right thing”. We can struggle to handle the demands of both our recovery and our eating disorder and all the people (friends, family members, therapists) who play a role in those areas.
If you’re struggling to keep your recovery on track during lockdown, remember, an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal. We can’t plan and prepare for every situation and there will be times we’re caught off-guard and struggle to know what the “right thing” is.
What’s important is that we’re curious about this experience and curious about what our recovery journey “is” and a respect for the fact that we can’t control it all.
This need to do the “right thing” needs some more words attached on the end: “for me”.
I need to do the right thing for me.
When everything is taken away from us, we have no choice but to resort to what’s leftover – simply, us. This is really difficult for people who struggle with “knowing” who they are and sitting with the confusion and fear that surrounds that.
Outside, Spring has sprung – a time that’s characterized by renewal, birth and blossom. If you’re looking for renewal and blossom in your recovery, keep in mind that all of this – this journey, your treatment, this blog – it’s all there for who you are when everything is taken away. The “you” underneath the eating disorder that’s slowly blossoming every single day.
You are not “an anorexic”, “a bulimic”, “a binge eater”. You are YOU and you happen to be going through a really difficult time right now. Some thoughts we’d like to leave you with:
As we’ve said before, recovery isn’t recovery without challenge. There will be bad days where we’ll be left thinking “it’s not working” or “I’m trying so hard already”. Curiosity about the ups and downs of our personal journeys is so important. The literal experience of these bad days (and getting through them) is an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to ourselves and our recovery.
Your recovery isn’t on pause. Keep cheerleading for it.
No matter how these days have been so far, the important thing is that you hold onto hope and root for your own recovery. Literally, you are allowed to wake up and shout: “TODAY I AM FOCUSING ON MY RECOVERY!!”. Your neighbours may not appreciate it, but your recovery is more important.
You don’t need to “do something” with this time
People with eating disorders can feel a compulsion to be productive, which is particularly difficult when there’s a lot of conversation around how we can fill this time and “make the most” of lockdown. You don’t have to join in with this if it doesn’t sit right with your recovery goals.
It’s okay to feel frustrated if you’re lonely or bored
What we’re going through right now simply isn’t fair on us. We weren’t given a “heads up” and we couldn’t prepare for how we might react to this situation. If you struggle with expressing anger, perhaps this is a great opportunity to open up that journal and rage.
Dip your toe into the experience of being “still”
When you suffer with an eating disorder, it’s daunting and threatening to simply be “still”. It goes against the voice of the eating disorder and feels threatening because stillness can allow for difficult emotions and memories to arise. Yet, accepting stillness is crucial for recovery; it’s a demonstration of your willingness to love yourself, look after yourself, and listen to yourself. It will most likely require baby steps, but that is okay. You deserve to be fully present in the world – to be slow and acknowledge what arises in that experience.