I’ve been following Chelsie’s blog since I started this blog, and I love what she has to say, particularly on the subject of eating disorder recovery. Not to mention, the girl kills it when she’s out running! So I asked her to do a guest post for my blog, and she was kind enough to agree. With that…here’s Chelsie!
A huge Hi! to all you 4F on a Budget readers!! I’m Chelsie and I blog over at Balance, Not Scale where I chat about my ED recovery, love of running, thoughts on weighty issues, and (of course) all the mistakes I make along the way.
I have to admit, I love reading Caroline’s blog. And while our backgrounds and stories are completely different, we have a lot in common — especially where penny-pinching
is concerned. I love a girl who loves a good deal — I knew we’d get along instantly. 😉 I have to admit, I was truly honoured when she asked me to do a guest post … So I thought I’d share a post another commonality that Caroline and I share — eating disorder recovery.
When I originally sat down and started to brainstorm exactly how I’ve moved into recovery, I still can’t believe that I’ve pulled it off. Because it took a lot of effort, courage, and cunning intelligence. Waging a war against an eating disorder is, just that, waging a war — going into battle against the enemy.
An ED is an invading force. It attacks your body, entering through a hole in your self-esteem, planting its seed of doubt in your core. And as that seed grows, the venom from it spreads to every part of you. It infects your brain — you no longer process the world in a real way. You see your universe through the eyes of your eating disorder, not your own. No matter how much others try to get you to see reason, your brain is contaminated with these toxic thoughts, and you cannot quite align their realities with your perceptions. Paranoia, anxiety, depression, isolation, and self-loathing feelings and thoughts are all that rush through your mind. They travel in at break-neck speed, never settling, never letting you catch more than a glimpse or a whisper of their disdain before moving on. The weaker your body gets, the stronger the ED becomes. But you can’t counter any of it because your mind has been overtaken.
Something has to give. Your sanity is gone, your health is gone. What do you have left? Most of the time, the only left in the ED version of Pandora’s Box
is the will to live. As long as you hold on to that, you can
The first thing that you need to do is acknowledge that you need help, that you want help, and that you’re ready to recover. If you have this, you can begin to wage your war … here are the steps I used to build my army and conquer my invading forces.
1. Find something to fight for
— Choose to live.
Don’t settle for the half-life your ED has committed you to. Decide to actually enjoy each and every moment. Your future can have hope, happiness, friendship, and love. But you need to want it. You need to embrace it. You need to choose to leave your old habits, feelings, and fears behind. This doesn’t need to happen all at once, but if you can see the hope and build it, it will become stronger along with you. Revolutions are not started by huge groups, they are started by one voice, often whispered and magnified by joining forces. But it takes that one whisper to start the revolution. Choose to fight and commit to the cause!
2. Pick soldiers to battle alongside you — I read a fabulous book called Beating Ana by Shannon Cutts
. The author states that “relationships replace eating disorders”. I fully believe that this is true. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, they are going to be your strongest allies. They will keep you accountable and encourage you. However, realize that they are very concerned for your well-being. Things may get tense and they may start to police you — please remember that this is because they love you. You may get frustrated, but the more you show them that you are strong in your recovery, the faster they will notice that their policing isn’t necessary.
Also, be sure to include only those who will not add negative thoughts to your life, those who are drama-free. This may mean abandoning a fair number of “friends” during your recovery. However, if they are toxic forces in your life, are they really friends? Will you actually miss them? Probably not.
You can also choose to include others in ED recovery for support, though this can be precarious and possibly triggering. Be careful on this front.
I include my treatment team under my army heading as well. They’re your generals and majors, the coordinating forces. Listen to them and do not omit facts because you’re embarrassed or ashamed. They’re there to help, not to judge, and they can’t do their job properly if you’re hiding facts.
3. Pick a battle strategy
— Make yourself a relapse prevention plan
(outline certain situations — events, foods, comments — that you think would possibly trigger a relapse and plan out what you would do should these arise) and share it with your soldiers. Work on body image exercises
to improve your self-esteem (I hold Self-Esteem Saturday
every week where I make challenges for myself, come check it out!).
Write out your future goals/bucket list
— realize that you probably won’t accomplish many while sick — gain motivation from them. Keep a recovery journal
of your thoughts and feelings. Educate yourself
— read about recovery (whether through blogs, articles, or books) just be careful to be critical of what you’re reading and be aware that not all recoveries are the same (just as no forms of this illness are the same).
— Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. I’m not saying to go out and have a cheeseburger or a pizza or a pasta dinner or a doughnut, but you do need to eat. Your brain, while malnourished is more prone to ED thoughts. Once you start refeeding, you will begin to become conscious of just how twisted your thoughts have become. Build a beginners meal plan with your medical team. Make your family aware of it (at the beginning, I ate every meal with a family member or co-workers I trusted to keep me accountable). This will be your base. As you begin to gain weight and your metabolism begins to boot up again, it will increase. Try not to panic. Think of food as your fuel. You absolutely cannot continue to run on empty. Eventually, once you have built your base, start challenging more difficult foods (I have a CrushED challenge
of foods/habits that I want to try over the next year).
5. Believe in yourself! You CAN recover. Life has so much more in store for you. Choose life. Choose happiness. It is as simple as that. The hard work is making it stick, but if you have a well-rounded recovery and cover all your bases, a happy, healthy, ED-free life is possible. 🙂
Feel free to email me with any questions or comments you may have … firstname.lastname@example.org.