While I have been in various forms and levels of treatment, both inpatient and outpatient, the main lessons I've learned through the recovery process have boiled down to be relatively similar and somewhat related. I know that I am particularly fortunate to have had the opportunity to be in a treatment center for the many months that I was admitted, and not everyone has that luxury. So, I wanted to write this post to briefly sum up the main lessons I've learned through my journey to help anyone who is seeking recovery independently, or is unable to gain access to a treatment facility, or doesn't struggle to the degree of a disorder but still wants to learn about how to find peace with food.
1. Learning about the facts! I've always been extremely interested in nutritional sciences and biology, and so learning about how the body functions and it's needs has been extremely helpful in combatting any ED voices in my mind!
2. Recognizing the source of my pain. I had to learn to recognize that while I was so fixated on food, exercising, and manipulating my body, it was not about the food. It was about so much more than that. It was about my deep sense of inadequacy, pain,shame, and regret, and I was responding to all the deep shit with food. Disordered behaviors are a coping mechanism, and recognizing in every moment what the deeper rooted struggle I was facing was helpful in encouraging me to act differently! So eg , if I'm about to have a meal and I don't want to, questioning why I don't want to- is it because I feel fat? Okay well that insecurity can't be dealt with with food. Recognizing that I'm loved and supported by amazing family and friends for who I AM and not what I look like. Okay it's not about the food, so I'm going to take care of myself and eat!
3. Learning how to sit with discomfort and recognizing that emotions are always only temporary and will pass! I realized that in restricting or exercising, I was avoiding feelings of anxiety that would inevitably come up. Ignoring or avoiding emotions isn't sustainable, and they will eventually come up again and I learned that I needed to deal with those core emotions in a healthy way. I had to learn how to sit with the anxiety of eating, knowing that it will pass and I could handle it! I found peace in meditating or using headspace to bring my back into my body and feel safe in the discomfort! Also writing, journaling about what I'm feeling about, or creating art helps me fully process emotions in a healthy and constructive way !!
I hope these three basic lessons bring you insight into how I was able to fight to be where I am today.