A Struggle in Recovery

It has been a while since my last post, especially since my last eating disorder- or recovery-related post.  At times I have felt it inauthentic to write a recovery post.  Though I am still in recovery and going strong, I have come across some struggles as of late after some ED-related medical issues have come up.  These medical issues have made it difficult to stay focused because my mind wants to constantly focus on how I have “failed” in recovery or focus on my body image.

Body image has always been a struggle for me.  According to my team, I do not possess accurate assessments on how I look (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) and it causes me great frustration and struggle.  Over time I have learned to trust in the assessment of my team through the removal and covering of mirrors, not weighing myself, and the minimal acceptance that my team may be correct.  Though it is not easy and, yes, I still question them all the time and come to periods where I bitch and moan about my body, it has helped and keeps me on track.

And then there are times like now where I break one of those “guidelines” I have for myself.  Last week after weeks of issues coming and going that were difficult that have made me focus my energy on my body because I refuse to engage in ED behaviors, I weighed myself.  Needless to say it was a bad idea.  It only amplified everything negative I was feeling.

Instead of turning to ED behaviors or other negative behaviors, I turned to what I know best to do in these situations: Basics of Recovery, doing one fun thing a day, and avoiding further triggers.  Knowing how sensitive I was, I made sure to take extra self-care of myself.  A few of the things I did were briefly avoided my scariest fear foods, which I am still working on even now; reached out to my friends though not always admitting what was going on; and avoided rumination as much as possible.  I also tried to keep myself busy but not too busy.  I went out and did things I enjoyed including the Farmer’s Markets, a fair/parade, and a movie.

In recovery, we all have these moments where we struggle.  It is about coping with it, learning from it, and overcoming it.  Simply because you struggle does not make you weak or a failure (as I have continued to learn through my recovery).  Keep fighting.  Always keep fighting.  You are worth it, recovery is worth it.  Recovery is possible.

Basics of Recovery

No matter where we are in our recovery, some days (or weeks, etc) we struggle.  Life throws us challenges that we did not expect or we are under more stress or some other scenario.  No matter what it is, we find ourselves tempted back into our behaviors and disorders.  But instead we must do what seems the impossible, as always, and fight.

During times of struggle, I find the best way for me to fight back is to go back to the basics of recovery.  The basics of recovery are different for everyone because everyone is different.  However, the same general rules apply.  The basics include (but at not limited to): emotional, physical, food, and spiritually.

-Emotional

  • Reach out for support/help from family, friends, or team members.  Sometimes you do not even have to say anything.  Texting with a friend or chatting with them on Facebook is a good way to get connected.  Remember: do not isolate yourself.
  • Remember what you have learned in therapy/treatment.  Use those CBT, DBT, or other skills.  It can be really hard to remember them when things are so difficult, but refresh your memory with books you have used, friends, or your therapist.  If all else fails, think: is this helping me or hurting me?  (PS: Rumination is never a good idea.)
  • One of my basics of recovery, which I recommend for everyone, is to have fun every day.  It may sound easy and silly, but it truly works.  Leave the house/apartment and go to the beach or the park or a sporting event (Go Seahawks!) or whatever else you enjoy!  Just have some fun or at least what has been fun.  Remind yourself of why recovery is worth it and what makes you happy.
  • Be kind and gentle towards yourself.  Have compassion.  You are hurting and struggling.  How would you treat a friend in your situation?
  • Celebrate yourself.  Your accomplishments, no matter how small, matter.  On those really tough days, getting out of bed is an accomplishment.  Every meal is an accomplishment.  Be proud.  Focus on those positives and what you did do rather than the negatives and what you did not do.
  • Be grateful.  Use gratitude every day.

-Physical

  • Get up, brush your teeth, shower, etc.  Care for your most basic needs.
  • Get enough sleep, try not to oversleep.
  • If exercise is not permitted for you, then do not engage in it.

-Food

  • When I struggle, I go back to basics with my food as well.  I stop “challenge” foods for a time and stick with the more “safe” foods until I feel more solid and on my feet again.  It is really helpful for me to eliminate as much challenge as possible at meal time when meals are already challenging during a period of struggle.  This is a temporary change and not a change in recovery.  If this becomes a pattern or habit, then I would reach out for more support from professionals.
  • Follow your meal plan or eat mindfully.  Stick to your recovery and care for your nutritional needs, especially right now.
  • Drink enough water.  When I find it difficult to drink water, I add flavoring such as a lemon.

-Spiritually

  • Keep going to church and praying.  If you have not gone in a while, think about going again.  If you have not prayed, try saying a little prayer.

The next time you are struggling, try going back to the basics of your recovery.  What does that look like for you?  Try mapping out your basics before you struggle so that if you do you are prepared.  Remember: take good self-care always!

NEDA Walk in a Bikini: Seattle NEDA Walk Spectacle (2013)

Before you read this post, I would like you to remember that this occurred in 2013 and it was an isolated incident. I have spent the better part of the last year in contact and working with NEDA on making this year’s Seattle Walk and all walks better. Our Walk in Seattle this year will be awesome!

———-

Yesterday I participated in this year’s Seattle National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk.  This year’s Walk was different from previous Walks and, sadly, mostly in not very good ways.  The Walk this year featured a group called Vulure Couture.

Vulure is a bathing suit company that specializes in bathing suits for small-chested women.  The entire group showed up in their line of bikinis, which  ranged from fashionable to scantly and sexy.  To add to the awkwardness, their documentary photographers and videographers were also present to capture the day.  This company had recently completed or is in the process of completing a documentary about two women wearing bikinis for 30-days for Eating Disorder awareness.

The Vulure group and a local nutrition counseling office group partnering with them made the Walk a spectacle and a condoned one at that.  The Walk coordinator on the board of NEDA mentioned the company and the swim line as if it were an advertisement.  This is not far-fetched though seeing how all three had been partnering together prior to the Walk even appearing on a radio talk show.  Each seemed to have an advertisement and an agenda and this Walk was their stage.  They even held up the entire Walk start time to be able to do it.

The overall feelings within myself and amongst my group and family was awkward and upsetting.  The Walk is relatively ‘safe’ environment where there are not triggers around.  Walk coordinators usually make sure the atmosphere allows for this type of environment as well as those people who attend this type of event.  We are all pretty well-aware that at eating disorder gatherings certain behaviors, clothing, talk, etc. should be avoided.  These two groups apparently did not receive the memo nor did the NEDA board member.  The bikini attire, especially the scantly, sexy nature of the bikinis was triggering and a spectacle.  At this type of event it is completely inappropriate.  Many of the Walk participants are still struggling with either behaviors and/or body image and to be bombarded at what should be a safer event is unacceptable.  This is not the time or the place to be promoting your company/business, swimsuits, or bodies.

I hope that there are others that were at the Seattle NEDA Walk that speak up if they felt the same.

Regardless of this happening at the Seattle Walk this year, I had a really good time.  The Walk is not about commercial crap, bodies, triggers, who raises the most (though my competitive demon would say otherwise..), the entertainment, etc.  The Walk is about coming together for a cause, raising awareness, and raising funds.  It is spending time with those you love and that love you for the morning or afternoon and enjoying their company.  Sometimes you have not seen these people in such a long time!  That is what it is about.  Everything else, whatever.  We do not even have to literally walk.