Eating Disorder Relapse: Get Back Up On That Horse, Girl!
This post graciously submitted by Jacqueline Ekern. Eating disorder recovery can be a one step forward, two step backward process. In fact, for most of us in recovery from bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorder, this is the norm and not the exception. It can be difficult to accept slips, whether this means overeating, under eating, purging or restricting. No matter what form your disordered eating manifests, it is tough to forgive yourself and start again. But, there is a big benefit to enduring this slip / forgive self / begin again process. It builds endurance and perseverance that will carve your soul into a compassionate, strong and committed woman, if you are willing to truly seek recovery and start over, as many times as is necessary, to live a life of health and well being.
Our world continually gives us messages that we need to look a certain way, achieve a special status, and weigh a very small amount. The media suggests that relentless focus on perfecting external image is the key to happiness and the good life. However, one of the most valuable lessons struggling with an eating disorder can provide someone is the opportunity to truly see how empty the pursuit of image can be. Sometimes, it is the harsh reality of an eating disorder that causes the individual to turn away from the external image obsession so popular in our culture, and instead begin to seek worth and fulfillment through self acceptance, spirituality and developing their unique gifts and talents.
When a slip or relapse happens, it is sometimes a wake up call to remind ourselves of our true inner values and needs. Are we living a life congruent with these two pillars of recovery: inner values and needs? If not, it may be time to reassess and modify one’s lifestyle and choices to be more in tune with what we personally need to lead a peaceful, content and fulfilling life. This may mean forcing yourself to carve out an hour a day of relaxation time where you can just “be” and not be constantly busy. It may mean asserting yourself about boundaries in a relationship and respecting yourself enough to ask for what you need. It may be as simple as making sure you are getting enough sleep each night. Whatever you may conclude, continually reviewing and revising your recovery and self care plan will help you recover from slips / relapses and avoid falling into old eating disordered behaviors.
Do you have any suggestions of what works for you to stay focused on your recovery each day and avoid slips? How about ideas for how to regroup and start again after experiencing a relapse? Has your experience in recovery, even if there have been slips, made you a better person? If so, how?
Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. This passion resulted from her own battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As director, Jacquelyn manages the Eating Disorder Hope Corporation and the Eating Disorder Hope website and maintains her license as a professional counselor.