I used to have this illusion that recovery meant that I would be free of my urges and free of mal-adaptive behaviors and the cycle of my eating disorder. I thought that I would be flooded with happiness and I’d feel invincible. And that the eating disorder could not hurt me if I felt this way.
Recently, I have learned that this black and white way of thinking has had an entirely adverse affect on my life and my life in recovery.
Living with an eating disorder, I have learned to both crave and fear the feeling of happiness. I craved this blissful feeling I had always thought people felt, and I had feared that once I felt happy, it would only be for a brief moment in time before my disorder took over again.
The Eating Disorder Cycle
My eating disorder thrives on my feelings of inadequacy and the fear or loss of love or happiness that I was convinced I never had. Once I acted on behaviors, I felt like I could never get out. The contrast between the darkness I felt and the light that resembled my motivation to recover felt so far from me then. I felt like I could never get out of my disorder. I felt like I would be in a constant cycle of mal-adaptive behavior.
The following are ways I broke the cycle of my eating disorder and what may help you break yours:
- Discuss your situation and feelings with people who you know can hear and listen to you (i.e. Mental Health Professionals, Friends, Trusted Others).
- Create a Plan/Course of Action–Daily Schedule whether it be with food and/or daily activities.
- Make sure you have a list of people to communicate with on a daily basis as a check-in point.
Note: Honesty is key! When you are choosing honesty, you choose your recovery. Lies are fueled and encouraged by your disorder. Try to break the pattern.
- Create a space in your life for productivity and encouragement both directly or indirectly correlated with recovery. (Example: clean and positive study/work space that is conducive to productivity and/or encouraging quote or another motivator when you are eating meals.)
- Plan to practice one or more coping mechanisms every day (i.e. Meditation, walk, color, knit, listen to music)
Note: Make sure you choose something that allows you to stay present and engaged. I would not include something like watching TV because it can be numbing.
- Choose to eat the next meal or snack, even if you have acted on behavior. It is never too early to start ending this pattern!
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. -Professor Albus Dumbledore