A very short while ago I didn’t want to get out of bed. I knew that I had to, or else my eating disorder would win, but I was getting close to the point of not caring.
I was almost two years into recovery from an eating disorder and I felt more stuck than ever. The present seemed like the worst I had ever felt. Of course, I had forgotten just how bad it was when I was in the depths of my eating disorder. You know how they say that you shouldn’t feel sad because there’s always someone in the world who is sadder than you? In a backward kind of way, that’s how I validated how I was feeling. My current depression was the worst I had experienced, simply because I was experiencing it. It didn’t matter that in the past I had experienced much darker times.
Why exactly I felt like crap I didn’t really know. Of course, the start of the new school year had a lot to do with it. The stress of new classes, homework, and studying for midterms loomed before me. Tough enough on its own, even harder when you have a voice in your head causing you anxiety about something as small as how many calories there are in the gum you’re chewing. I had thought I would be able to handle it but I underestimated just how much it would all affect me.
What I did know was that in order to move forward, I couldn’t keep letting the negative thoughts get me down. I didn’t really know what to do. I found it hard to keep a positive mindset and monitor my thoughts all the time, but feeling bad about not being able to do that just made me feel even worse.
I’d also been struggling lately with feeling like I wasn’t doing what I should be in recovery. There are so many wonderful resources for those fighting an eating disorder. However, instead of using these resources and people as inspiration and support, the perfectionist in me used them to tell me I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself to those girls who seemed so positive, who had a handle on their recovery. Why couldn’t I be like that? I should be able to take all these challenges I was facing in stride.
One of the most helpful things my therapist always says is that “there is no should.” She helped me realize how distorted my thoughts had become and devised a list of goals to help further my recovery.
One of those goals included coming up with a daily “Gratitude and Accomplishment.” For some reason, this has really worked for me where other things haven’t before.
What helps the most is that it’s a concrete way to retrain your thoughts, as well as give yourself some credit for all the hard work you’ve put into recovery. It’s also super simple and easy to fit into your day!
First thing in the morning, or right before you go to bed, take a minute to think of one thing you are grateful for and write it down. You can journal it, put a sticky note on your mirror, or what I personally do, text it to someone.
It can be anything from having a roof over your head to that awesome new nail polish color you just bought. This is a good way to practice body positivity too! Try thinking of a part of your body you are grateful for, or something that it allows you to do, like how your left-handedness makes you unique or how your legs let you go for that exhilarating run yesterday.
Now think of something you accomplished that day. It could be as big and important as acing a test or eating a new fear food, or it could be something little as taking your dog for a walk or raising your hand in class.
As much my and your eating disorder would like you to try to be, we are – in no way – perfect and the journey to recovery is in no way close to being over. Recovery is slow, a fact that has frustrated me to no end, but also comforted me.
There have been several points in my recovery where I thought I’d hit a new low, one thing that if I could just get over, I would be better. Unfortunately, life is hard and always has some new challenge to throw your way but know that you’ll be able to handle whatever comes next.
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