No matter how enthusiastically you are pursuing recovery or how committed you are to moving on and living your life without your eating disorder, you will have days that test your resolve. Recovery, much like life itself, has its ups and downs; it’s part of the process. The key to being successful is being prepared to navigate the rough days and remaining calm, knowing that smoother waters lie ahead.
Yesterday was one of those days for me. For one reason or another, I woke up with terrible body image and just felt bloated and irritable all day long. When I got dressed in the morning, nothing seemed to fit right. Nothing looked flattering. I was not a happy a camper. In my crazy eating disorder mind, I was scanning through all the meals and snacks I had the day before, trying to pinpoint my “mistake.” (<– E.D. thoughts are insane!)
So, what did I do? Did I give in to the disordered thoughts racing through my mind? Did I somehow compensate for my perceived weight gain? Nope. I thought back to other days in my recovery journey when I felt similarly about myself and my body. Sure, the day was also uncomfortable and insecurities were rampant, but the feelings eventually passed. The next day (or sometimes I couple of days later), I woke up in a different mood. I also recognized the fact that these irrational thoughts were simply manifestations of my eating disorder’s resistance to let go. They were actually signs of my progress, albeit annoying ones. Once I acknowledged my thoughts and feelings and explored why I was thinking/feeling a certain way, I resolved to honor my recovery and to take small steps that helped make my day more pleasant.
First, I wore the clothes that were the most comfortable. Did I feel remarkably stylish or attractive? Not so much. But I was comfortable! Secondly, I made sure I packed my meals and snacks for the work day, despite my lack of desire to eat them. If I would have left food at home, I know I would have found 10 million reasons why I didn’t have time to run out to grab lunch or snacks. Once everyone else at work was settling down for lunch, it was easier for me, too. Think ahead, and honestly examine your weaknesses. Next, I socialized at work and played music in my office. Laughter has the ability to take a tough day and to turn it into an amazing one in the matter of a few seconds. So, I surrounded myself with my coworkers at the start of the day and shared a few laughs. Once I went back to my office and actually sat down to do my job, I played my favorite music in the background to keep my spirits up and, perhaps more importantly, to keep my mind occupied. After work, I called a special family member with whom I had not spoken for quite some time and enjoyed catching up with her. She has been very supportive of my recovery process, and it was incredibly motivating for me to continue to fight by simply telling her how much I appreciate her. As a cumulative result of all of my small efforts throughout the day, my mood was uplifted, my motivation was reignited, and I enjoyed the rest of the evening with my loving husband and spoiled dog.
None of those steps was in itself complicated or revolutionary in nature, but they were effective. Opposite action is powerful, effective and EASY. The next time you wake up and can tell you are going to have a tough day, commit to taking the time to come up with a few ways that you can add bits and pieces of cheer into your day, little by little. And do them! Better yet, go ahead and make that list so you’re prepared for the days when perhaps your motivation is M.I.A. Either way, remember that challenging days are part of the process, so keep up the good fight and never let go of your hope. Recovery IS possible.
Have a great day.