How Long Does Recovery Take?
The question that arises perhaps more often than any other as I treat clients or on my Food and Feelings message board is how long it will take to recover from disregulated eating. Although it feels far too glib to reply to such an earnest inquiry that it takes as long as it takes, that’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A more enlightening question is what makes disregulated eaters so obsessed with a recovery end date.
As I’ve mentioned before, I worked in the field of drug addiction for six years and, interestingly, I can’t recall ever hearing clients ask when they would recover. Most definitely thought the process would be far quicker than it was, and some certainly believed they were done with drugs or alcohol only to discover they were only in early recovery, but their focus was not on when they’d be free of addiction.
This question is often the main focus of disregulated eaters which is unfortunate because of its dead end nature. I can’t tell you how long it will take for you to recover, but I can say with certainty that this pre-occupation will, without a doubt, slow down the process. Healing depends on overcoming many barriers: surrendering to willing yourself well; believing you can take shortcuts and succeed; not seeking all the help required to heal no matter how uncomfortable it makes you; failing to acquire the skills you lack to manage life effectively; not taking care of yourself supremely; denying that you can avoid pain and enjoy only pleasure in life; ditching the diet mentality and a weight focus.
Life unfolds on its own. You’re not the center of the universe, nor am I, and we can’t bend life to our will. As the saying goes: You can’t push the river. You have to work with what you have, your history, and whatever fate throws your way. You can’t say, I want to recover quickly, but only on my terms, so I won’t do this or that because it makes me uncomfortable. Although I often rail against all-or-nothing thinking, here’s one time it applies: You’re either in 100% or you’re not going to make it. Healing from an eating disorder takes, at least, many months to a few years. Becoming an enlightened, emotionally healthy person may take a lifetime. This is true for everyone on the planet.
Whenever you get frustrated and the child in you demands an answer to when you’re going to be healed from your eating problems, gently push away the question and anchor yourself to the moment. Put your mind to doing whatever you have to do every day and you’ll get there when you get there. Which will be just the right time for you.
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