I’ve been in recovery for 185 days. It seems like forever – yet, it’s just a drop in the ocean. Having a recovery toolbox has helped me get where I am today.
While I’m not yet fully recovered, I can say with conviction and confidence I’m finally on the path. I have 50 years of disordered eating to rewrite. It was never going to be a quick, easy fix.
What’s keeping me on track?
After so many years of disordered eating, what has finally kept me on the recovery path for 185 days? Here’s a glimpse at what’s been keeping me on track, maybe they can help you too:
1. Throwing away the scales
Believe me when I say this was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. But those scales no longer control me.
2. Committing to a certain number of meals each day
My watch taps me on the wrist five times a day reminding me to eat.
3. Eating within the guidelines set by my dietitian
This has helped me have a bit of structure and guidance.
4. Embracing flexibility
While I do have a bit of structure, I’m also eating in a flexible way. My schedules and guidelines are all flexible – because life is unpredictable
5. Not using compensatory behaviors
6. Staying honest & accountable
If I slip up, I tell someone or write about it. I shed the shame. Silence is my worst enemy.
7. Taking my medications
Eating disorders are a symptom of a bigger problem, and for me that bigger problem is depression and anxiety. If it’s not managed, the eating disorder rules.
8. Questioning the ed-voice
The cunning voice inside my head luring me back to the dark side isn’t to be trusted. If I wonder about a choice, I ask someone. Because the conversation in my head can be manipulating.
Building a toolbox
With all of these changes, I’ve needed even more support. And those are found in my “recovery toolbox.”
Finding all of these tools has taken a lot of years (and I mean a lot!) and constant searching for recovery tools. Not all of these may work for you, but maybe they can give you a few ideas for tools to add to your own toolbox.
8 recovery tools for your toolbox
Dark thoughts must be expressed
Discussion with trusted confidantes makes sense of the chaos in my head
When anxiety soars, I use my five senses. Feel the ground beneath my feet. Look around and count five things. Listen for five different noises. Eat an intensely flavored breath mint. I stop and notice the smells around me…
4. Taking a break
Do something else. Listen to music, walk on the beach, talk to a friend, go to bed, snuggle my cat, watch television. I do anything to distract myself from giving in to the desperate desire to binge/purge/restrict.
5. Picturing freedom
This one is so difficult, but it’s important to imagine life without an eating disorder. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if I could eat without guilt or self-hatred? What would my life look like?”
Picturing freedom brings hope, and hope is essential.
6. Having faith
If I don’t believe I can recover, I won’t. It’s a difficult path to traverse and there’s nothing to push me along if I don’t believe it’s possible.
When I want to isolate, I know i need to do the exact opposite.
People can exhaust me and it’s tempting to hide away, but isolation feeds depression, anxiety and my eating disorder. Spending time with friends and family is integral – whether or not I feel like it.
I chant the serenity prayer at the first sign of distress. It matters not what your affirmation is – as long as you have one. Mine is, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Progress, not perfection
I still fall down, make mistakes, and occasionally stray from the path. Apparently, 135 days is still very early in the process.
I am anticipating it will take at least a year, if not two, before I no longer need support and reminders from my guardian angels.
But these 135 days of recovery have shown me eating nutritious meals at regular intervals on a consistent basis hasn’t resulted in anything terrible. In fact, my mind is clearer, my energy levels are higher, and my mood has improved.
There are a multitude of benefits to being halfway recovered. I can only imagine the joy of being free from the shackles of a full-fledged eating disorder. My imagination is excited at the prospect.