If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re struggling with eating disorder recovery today. It's not easy, but here’s a list of things to remember to help you on your way:
1. You always deserve to eat.
Regardless of what you ate yesterday, regardless of what you’ve already eaten today and regardless of what you’ll eat in the future. You always deserve food and your body always deserves to be fuelled – no matter if you’ve exercised, gained weight recently, aren’t feeling hungry ‘enough’, or simply feel like you're less deserving.
2. You don’t need to compare your recovery to someone else’s.
Every single person in recovery is doing it in their own way. There’s no one-size-fits-all magic mould that’ll fix us, and there never should be. Comparing the speed or appearance of your recovery to someone else’s is no different from comparing your body to another’s, so ditch the inner critic and let yourself move at your own pace without the guilt of not matching up to someone else’s standards.
3. You don’t have to put off recovery until other things in your life improve.
You deserve to better your relationships with your body and food no matter what else is happening in your life. We, as human beings, have a tendency to put ourselves and our mental health on the backburner, but you can’t give your 100% to life when you’re running on empty. Take some time for you and don’t feel guilty about it – your life, and all those who are meant to be in it, will still be there when you’re ready to come up for air.
4. Think of all the things you’ve learnt about yourself since you started recovering.
Remember where you were a year ago? Six months ago? A week ago? Think of how much you’ve changed and grown since then, and all the things you’re already achieving that you never even thought possible. Remind yourself of all the ways you’ve already begun your metamorphosis and recovery won’t seem quite so daunting anymore.
5. Work through the mantras and coping mechanisms you’ve been taught in counselling – and sign up for some if you haven’t already.
Even if you’re convinced counselling isn’t helping, or won’t ever help you, sticking it out that little bit longer will never hurt. If you’ve been too afraid to seek help in your recovery, then now’s the time to reach out for support. There’s nothing shameful in needing a helping hand, and you’ll find some online counselling platforms to get you started through our Resources.
6. It’s okay to be present in your pain before moving on.
What you need now, in the words of Simi Botie, is ‘less fixing and more feeling’. You're allowed to sit with your feelings and to spend as much time as you need processing them. Being conscious in your pain and understanding it rather than passively letting it wash over you, or obsessing over how to shut it down, will give you a sense of perspective you never even knew you needed.
7. You don’t need to love yourself every second, but you do need to accept yourself as you are in this moment.
The process of learning to love yourself is never an easy one, but right now you just need acceptance. An acceptance of your body exactly as it is, in this minute, will let your brain move from a place of negative self-talk to more neutral ground – allowing you to focus back in on why choosing recovery is worth it every time.
8. You have people who love you, and you don’t have to be alone in this.
Even on your loneliest days, there are still people in this world that love you and want you here. Whether you know of them or not, there are many people in this life that you have touched simply with your existence – and if you could count them up you’d be surely surprised by the amount. There will always be someone here for you, you just have to take the initiative and reach out to them when you’re ready.
9. You can give yourself permission to leave the ED world once and for all.
You can leave the toxic friendships that trigger you every day, you can unfollow those ‘thinspo’ girls on social media (whose place in your feed you justify as simply being for ‘outfit inspiration’ or the like) and you can call out diet culture as you see it. You don’t ever need to be afraid of making this move – the culture lives to exploit you, so get angry about it and take back the mental headspace it’s been occupying that was always yours.
10. You don’t need the illness as a definition of who you are.
You don’t have the be the person ‘with the eating disorder’. Truly, you can be whoever you want to be. Once you shrug this persona off, you’ll be free to define yourself as whoever and whatever you choose to be. Maybe you’re an astronaut? An artist? Or simply, bravely, a survivor? Simply, bravely, you? Outline yourself in any way you please, but you are not – and never will be – confined to only the role of the ‘sick one’.
11. This too shall pass.
Believe us, everything always does.