Eating Disorder Recovery, Going Backwards Before We Go Forward
Many parents of kids with eating disorders share that their child in recovery was making such great progress when suddenly things start to move backwards.First, eating disorder recovery is not linear. Oh how we wish it were. But it is part of the process of recovery to zig zag, move forward, take some steps back and then forward again (hopefully).A couple of years ago after the Center For Change Eating Disorders Conference in Utah I went skiing with eating disorder Author Jenni Schaefer at Sundance in Utah. She was learning to snowboard and we had a good laugh about how she spent a lot of time sitting on her behind. At one point, on a rather flat area she took one foot out of the board and walked to get to where we were going. It initiated a conversation about how this reminded us both of the recovery process.
What can feel like we are failing, having to stop and take some action that feels like going backwards, can actually propel us forward. Once Jenni had her foot out of the binding and on the snow, she could move toward me and get to a spot that sloped down and she was able to put her foot back in and we were able to keep having fun gliding down the mountain. Here’s Jenni celebrating moving forward and enjoying life – ED FREE!
As I’ve been unpacking from a recent move (hopefully my last in this life), I was feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do and still run a business. We had also recently returned from overseas travel as well…which was good but things get neglected. While watering some very thirsty plants I got the hose caught on a step while dragging it from the back yard to the front, I was almost there and the hose stopped suddenly. I had to lay it down and walk back and found this.
As I bent down to release the hose from being caught on the step, it reminded that I might need to be a little more gentle with myself as I unpack, get settled, keep running my business, follow up with eating disorders folks I met with while in England, and attend to all the other details of a very full life. It also reminded me that often, to move forward we must first go back.
Speaking of going back, when I visited with Susan Ringwood, the Executive Director of b-EAT, the UK eating disorder non-profit while I was in England in August, we had our photo taken with a picture of the late Princess Diana of Wales. As a sufferer of bulimia nervosa herself, she was a supporter of b-EAT and once visited the very offices I was visiting. I’m so grateful to the late Princess for helping raise awareness and reduce stigma with her openness about her illness. I shared with Susan that I’m always hopeful that her boys will pick up this cause in honor of their beloved mum and use their royal positions to help b-EAT and all families fight eating disorders. This could create some major forward motion in raising awareness, research funds and reducing stigma.My goal is to bring hope to families helping a loved one recover from an eating disorder. Are you feeling like a loved one in recovery follows this pattern of backwards/forwards? I welcome your comments here, very likely other families are experiencing something similar.
Becky Henry, Founder
Hope Network, LLC