I had a baby 8 months ago. As someone who suffered with an eating disorder since they were 17 (now 31), gaining that weight was literally soul crushing. I felt like I had no control and I was rapidly changing before my eyes. Now, 8 months postpartum I see the destruction that has been left. Yes I said destruction, because despite being “recovered”, I still can’t shake the thoughts from my mind. Treatment never prepared me for this stage of my life or this stage of my recovery. They always just said, “You need to eat!” and “Your worth isn’t measured by a number on the scale.” Well what about when you do everything you are “supposed” to and your body is a shell of what it once was?
What do you do when you slowly find yourself slipping back into old thoughts? Those thoughts that feel like an old friend that comfort you when the world around you feels crazy; the same thoughts that can lead you back to a dark and lonely place.
A key to being recovered means you have to put in the work to stay recovered. These three things have helped keep me on track when my brain wants to resort back to what is comfortable:
Be honest with your friends, your family, your spouse, and yourself!
Be open and honest with those supportive people in your life. And if you feel like you don’t have one, find someone. Making excuses will make you sick. Being honest will keep you healthy. For example, I faced-timed with my mom the other day so I wouldn’t have to eat dinner alone. Weird? Sure, but it is better than not eating!
Keeping with the theme of honesty, knowing that eating disorders thrive in secrecy has helped me stay honest. So instead of keeping secrets, do the exact opposite.
I decide no secrets about any behaviors or feelings I had (within reason). I tell my husband exactly what I am thinking or feeling-even if unrelated to an eating disorder. Keeping the little secrets can lead to keeping bigger secrets.
I talk about struggles-mainly body image issues-with my friends and my husband. It isn’t the topic of every conversation, but the approach I have is less shameful and more matter-of-fact. Come to find out, most people feel the same way and don’t punish themselves for it, why should I?
Ask anyone with an eating disorder and they will tell you the amount of nasty things that go through their mind on any given day. Just because you are recovered doesn’t mean you are a positive ray of sunshine every day. Instead, when I get disgusted with myself, I ask 2 questions: “what is going on in my life that is making me feel this way?” and “does any of this (life’s craziness) make me a terrible person?”
The answer to the second question is always, NO, and it should be the same for everyone! Instead, identify the trigger, the chaos, the disorder that is your life and breath. Make a plan on how to lessen the burden-make lists, ask for help, and tell yourself you are a perfectly imperfect person. That is how we are designed to be! I would never say the things I thought about myself to someone, why then, would you say those mean things to yourself?
To stay recovered, you have to work at it constantly every day. Otherwise, it may show up, seemingly out of nowhere. When in reality, you were probably ignoring the signs. So be honest, don’t keep secrets, and be kind to yourself!