My Mental Health and Eating Disorder REALcovery
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a bit more of my eating disorder recovery journey & offer some valuable tools & tactics that I used to help me overcome and grow out of my ED.
So, here we go.
Whatever you’re struggling with—whether it be anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, body-image issues, etc., you can’t keep pushing it down & trying to bury it.
The sooner you realize you have to deal with it head on, the better.
Whenever you feel your anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts—whatever it looks like for you—let yourself FEEL it & figure out what’s causing those emotions/thought to come up.
That’s the first step. And then once you figure out what the underlying cause is, you can move on to the next step—taking action.
The best way I can explain this is to just give you a real life example; so here’s what it looked like for me:
So I was bulimic…that was my biggest ‘issue’. Right.
But it’s not that cut & dry.
That binge/purge cycle was brought on almost always by anxiety, stress, and/or past trauma that I had buried for a long time.
I wasn’t fully aware of that until talking about all the things with my therapist.
So once I understood the underlying cause/causes of my ‘bad habit’, if you will; then I was able to take notice of those feelings/thoughts when an ‘urge’ came up.
When I would feel that urge, I would pause & really think, “okay, why am I getting this urge right now?”.
A lot of times it was stress—from work, or life in general, that would cause me to feel really anxious, and then my coping mechanism had become that binge/purge habit.
Over time, that habit became my default coping mechanism; so if I wanted to stop doing that & break that habit, I had to replace it with a better, healthier one.
So what I did *with the help of my therapist*, was I came up with a list of 4 things that I had to do when an urge came up before I was ‘allowed’ to binge/purse.
My 4 things were:
1. Take Divot for a walk.
2. Call my mom or sister to chat.
3. Sit and meditate/breathe for 10 minutes.
4. Write down 5-10 things I am grateful for.
I made a promise to my therapist & to myself that if an urge came up, I HAD to do all 4 things on this list before I could binge/purge.
…and if you’ve never gone through something like this, that sentence itself probably sounds so f*cked up; but that was my reality. Pretty f*cked up.
It hard as hell to break a habit, but this was the method/tactic that worked for me.
Most of the time, I didn’t even have to go through all 4 of the things on my list before I was calmed down & free of the bad urges.
Those 4 things are simple things; they’re not rocket science. They’re all positive, feel-good practices, and when you force yourself to do things that are simple & bring you joy, you feel better & often times forget what you were even worked up about to begin with.
That’s how I found success with combatting the underlying causes (stress/anxiety) of my binge/purge cycles.
Did I ever ‘cheat’ on that list? Of course I did.
Did I feel shame for it? Sure did.
But ya know what?—that’s called being human.
And I think that was one of the most pronounced things my therapist said to me…she told me that it’s okay to have a slip-up & that it WOULD happen.
We just have to keep trying & doing our best and make CONSCIOUS, CONSISTENT efforts. That’s how we make progress.
That’s how we get better.
And that’s how we heal.
I hope this is helpful, and I hope that if you’re struggling with anything along the lines of anxiety, depression, an ED, etc. that you can take something away from this that can help you recover & heal.
Mental health shouldn’t be stigmatized. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, & grappling with an issue or disorder is incredibly common.
You truly are not in this alone.
Struggling through anything of the sort sucks.
So take control of your life and make real, conscious efforts to get better.
And when you mess up, know that it’s okay and it’s part of the process; but it does NOT mean you failed or that you suck.
Accept your slip-up for what it is and then move on & do better the next time.
And if you’re anywhere near where I was & feel totally lost and helpless, get help.
& don’t you dare feel ashamed about it.
I hear you & I'm here for you.