I was scrolling through Instagram last night and thinking a lot about how different members of our community were dealing with the Easter holidays in their respective stages of recovery. Some people were eating unrestricted, whilst others were challenging themselves by eating more than the recommended serving size on their chocolate egg, or by eating any at all. I read a fair few individuals reflections on previous years, detailing their regret at having missed out on the fun and festivities due to their ED's, but simultaneously, I saw people so trapped in their ED's that they were doing the exact thing that others were telling them was such a mistake. Whilst initially I had planned to write about dealing with the next day guilt in today's post, this got me thinking about what stops us from committing to recovery, and so I've decided to explore it more.
I'm talking about the disordered attitude we hold that goes something along the lines of "I'll recover when I'm ready", or in this case, "I'll enjoy Easter when I'm ready". Obviously, I'm not talking about those individuals who are unable for medical reasons to join in, I'm talking about those who may be contemplating recovery, or trapped in quasi recovery, and aren't willing to let go of their ED. Essentially I'm talking to me, 6 weeks ago. This might sound harsh, but we need to accept that we are never going to be ready to recover. I didn't wake up one morning and the ED voice had just disappeared, and I didn't receive some sign that it was now okay for me to let my ED go. I spent so long in search of rock bottom... something that would force me into recovery, or essentially confirmation that I was ill enough to be worthy of getting better. It's no secret that this is something many of us experience, but if we really want to recover, then we can't just accept this. No matter what your ED journey has looked like, irrespective of numbers or dates or circumstance, you are always worthy of recovery, and it is up to you to choose it.
I'm by no means saying it's an easy choice, but it is preferable to resigning ourselves to a life of suffering trapped in our ED's, or ultimately to death. We are all well aware where our ED's are leading us, and no matter what false sense of control you believe you have, they are resenting and they won't stop unless we fight them. I have never encountered an ED sufferer who is not intelligent. In treatment we are often handled as though we're fragile, and so people are scared of saying something wrong, pushing us too hard, or triggering a relapse. This is nonsense. Our ED's exploit our capacity to manipulate situations, and so far too often we end up in a false recovery that is almost entirely on our ED's terms and is consequently highly ineffective at bringing about any real change. If you want to recover, you have to take responsibility for it. Yes, the support of therapists and our families and friends can be massively helpful, but if you want to recover, you have to do it for you.
What is the point on missing out now if you intend on recovering in the future? What are you really proving? You're only strengthening your ED and reinforcing the disordered neural pathways you've formed, and so making your supposedly inevitable recovery harder. Maybe you're thinking "Yes!", because I know that I too, was scared I'd find recovery too easy and all my 'hard work' and suffering would have been for nothing, but I promise you that's just your ED talking. If you truly want to survive to see next Easter then chose recovery today. If you plan on living to see the day you can eat chocolate or whatever you fear, then why not make that day now. If you plan on one day being free of your ED, then you plan on being in place whereby you are not going to look back on this time and be happy you didn't eat X, Y, or Z. You're not going to remember the praise your ED gave you, or the number of calories you saved... how much weight you managed to lose, how thin you looked, or how superior you felt. You're going to look back and regret missing out on time spent with loved ones, and on the food you now know tastes so good. Your ED is ugly, and it makes your life ugly... it is never going to allow you to create memories in which you were truly happy, no matter what it tells you.
So what to do. Okay... so maybe this post is coming too late you might be thinking... I mean "Easter was yesterday" after all. Stop. You're doing it again. Choosing recovery does not have to be this big event. Too often we turn to "All or nothing" thinking, and in doing so, ignore everything that lies between the extremes of greatness and tragedy. Your decision to commit to recovery does not have to be commemorated by an important day or scenario. It is the decision to save your own life, and to work towards making it one that you love, not one you're passively existing in. It's going to be tough. God, it's going to be one of the hardest things you've ever done. We all know it's not just a case of eating and gaining weight... no, you've got a whole storm ahead of you, but you're never going to be ready for it. Through my posts I'm trying to arm you with the tools to get through it, but recovery is not something you can achieve just by educating yourself on what it entails. The only way you're going to rewire your brain is through actively challenging your ED and repeating this over and over, despite all the anxiety and discomfort.
You don't need an excuse to pick recovery, but if you can't accept that then take this as your sign. I'm giving you permission to recover. Go. Go and wind your ED up to the point you think your heads about to explode, and then do it some more.
More from me soon,
Mais // The Recovery Bean <3