I know eating disorder (ED) recovery is hard. Healing and creating change in your relationship with food and your body takes time and a lot of intentional practice. And it is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting, AND it’s worth it!
While you’re on this journey to recovery, I hope you remember:
1. You are not your eating disorder. At first, it can feel like your whole identity- your thoughts, feelings, and activities- all center around your ED. As you heal, you’ll separate yourself from your ED and fill all the space and time with other things that matter. Maybe you’ll develop new hobbies or revisit old ones, or maybe you’ll be able to give your full focus to work, school, relationships, and yourself.
2. Healing is filled with slips and relapses, and you’ll recover quicker with self-kindness and self-compassion. You’re not perfect and neither is your recovery.
3. The ED voice will go from being a loud voice in your head to a quiet whisper… and then the only voice you’ll hear is your own. Think how wonderful it will be to hear your sweet, supportive (and maybe sometimes sassy and sarcastic) voice again!
4. Early in your recovery it will feel like you have to fight against your ED (this is why you’re a warrior!); however, with time, you’ll have compassion for it. You will begin to recognize how it helped protect you, distract you, offered you control when you had none, or helped make difficult feelings less intense. This acknowledgment will help release it and replace it with healthier coping.
5. Sometimes it will feel like the end of this journey keeps moving further ahead no matter how many steps forward you take: I promise you though that it is there and that every step you take (even if it feels backward) is part of your healing and presents an opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn. You will develop a healthier relationship with food, your body, and yourself.
Celebrate each step towards recovery, have patience with your stumbles, offer yourself compassion for your relapses, seek support when you feel stuck, and always hold onto hope.
Your ED therapist
If you need support for your eating disorder, visit the resources section of the Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorder Coalition or phone the National Eating Disorder Information Centre Helpline.
This letter was inspired by a collaborative post with Dr. Marianne Miller, an eating disorder therapist specializing in treating binge-eating disorder, ARFID, anorexia, and bulimia in California and Texas. Follow her @drmariannemiller