The importance of kicking those last few ED behaviours
Today I wanted to talk about the importance of letting go of those last few eating disorder behaviours in recovery. This is something I’ve been challenging over the last few weeks and it has shocked me as to how big an impact it has had on my recovery. The kinds of things I’m talking about here are those sneaky little rules that of themselves don’t seem overly harmful and so the slight relief they offer you in times of heightened anxiety seems to justify them. As always I am reluctant to give examples, but for me it’s things like using a smaller fork to eat my dinner, or always having the same breakfast. These things alone aren’t having an especially negative impact on my life as I’m continuing to recover around them and do have a certain amount of flexibility that means for example I am able to eat at a restaurant with different crockery. That said, having actively disengaged with these behaviours I have been able to see that they were keeping me in an eating disorder mentality which made other aspects of my recovery more difficult.
Since switching out my usual breakfast for different options both at home and whilst on holiday, I have realised that I was previously setting myself up for a day in the life of “Mais the anorexic” or “Recovering Mais” without even realising it. This is because my brain associates my usual breakfast with my illness as I have eaten it nearly exclusively since first seeking support. Therefore, even though I enjoy it I have had to choose alternatives in order to escape this head space.
One way in which this has helped me is it has removed the last of my calorie counting behaviours as pretty much everything I eat is now of unknown calorific value to me - it just tastes good. It has also made it easier for me to eat more intuitively as before I was inclined to adhere to my meal plan and ignore my hunger outside of this. I’m struggling to articulate quite what I mean but I guess I essentially just feel more “normal” as a result of cutting out these behaviours. I don’t wake up to “another day of recovery”, I just wake up to a day in my life. It feels for the first time in so long like I have genuine freedom around food, as even if it scares me I am still able to pick it and deal with the guilt instead of being too crippled by fear to even try. Sure it’s been scary because these seemingly insignificant actions have been my safety blanket even at this late stage in recovery, but letting them go has also been liberating and made it much easier for me to always chose the Mais option when it comes to other decisions. Keeping these rules may not have been the end of the world but they kept a foot in the door for my ED to creep back in and that is certainly not what I want.
I guess this all ties into the concept of losing my ED identity that I talk about so much here on the blog. I have been reluctant to wave goodbye to the last behaviours as I feared what I would do without them. As always though, you can't know until you try and whilst initially challenging, this change has actually made other aspects of my recovery less stressful. I've written about this before in my post on overcomplicating recovery (https://therecoverybean.wixsite.com/therecoverybean/post/recovery-doesn-t-need-to-be-complicated) and it's only becoming more true the further along my journey I travel. Shutting off the ED voice entirely - through repetitive opposite actions of course, makes making recovery focused choices so much less anxiety inducing as it removes the element of choice and prevents the tiresome battle with the ED voice. Whilst there is no secret to unlocking this ability I have found that eliminating all behaviours that tie you to your sick identity certainly helps.
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3