Everyone loves the beautifully sunny and calm days of recovery. The days when ED is turned down to the lowest volume, you are present in your conversations, and the colors of life shine bright. Those days are wonderful.
But, of course, storms are inevitable. After all, this is recovery!
Recovery is an amazing thing, but it is also a difficult one. There will be times when ED makes loud and surprising appearances, and the weight of the world has plopped back on your shoulders. Thankfully, you CAN get through them.
You’re probably in one of three places right now – before a hard time, currently dealing with difficultly, or past a storm in your recovery. Here’s exactly what to do in each of those situations:
1. Find accountability
You are not in this alone. I repeat: YOU ARE NOT IN THIS ALONE.
Find a few people that you trust and can rely on. Make sure these are people who know your situation, triggers, and how to help you. Talk to them on the good days and let them know how to support you through the bad ones.
2. Write it out
Writing is important in every stage of recovery. I love making lists. So try writing lists – write tons of them!
List your motivators and affirmations. Jot down things to do instead of restrict/binge/purge/etc. You can refer back to these at tough moments.
3. Look back
Remember those lists you wrote? Read them! Having reminders from your grounded, level-headed self is vital to surviving the forces of ED.
4. Call for backup
Bring out the support. Call, text, or meet up with your support team. Tell them what you’re feeling and let them help you! Never, ever go through a difficult day alone.
5. Opposite action
As my all-time favorite DBT skill, I cannot adequately stress the importance of opposite action. It’s just as it sounds: Listen to whatever your ED is telling you to do, and do the exact opposite.
ED says to skip the meal? Opposite action: eat the meal.
ED says purge? Opposite action: go out with a friend where you can’t purge.
Recognize the victories: no matter how much you cried, fell, or engaged in behaviors, there is ALWAYS a victory at the end of each day.
Sometimes the win might be that you ate all of your meals, other times it is that you simply made it through the day. No matter what, you accomplished something, and no matter how simple, it is great.
7. Learn what works for you
Not every single skill or technique you learn is helpful for you, so try them all and find which skill helps you most. Think back to what helped you through the difficult time and write it down. Reflect on the things that pulled you out of whatever misery you were facing and try to evaluate why it was helpful.
Was it your friends keeping you accountable? A DBT skill like opposite action? Simple distraction? A kinesthetic activity like coloring? Learn what worked for you.
8. Practice gratitude
Thank those who helped you through – and thank yourself.
Most importantly, you deserve your own thanks. You made it through the day, which means you are strong, warrior.
You are powerful, and courageous, so do not let even one day take that from you. Stay strong, you can do this.