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Eating Disorders Recovery

Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Last week in a counseling session, my therapist issued me an assignment: Write a "dear body" letter to myself. In the past, I have done similar exercises, like the goodbye letter I wrote to my eating disorder in 2018. But this undertaking feels much different.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
If you deal with an eating disorder (ED), it's no secret that the holidays can lead to heightened stress—both for you and for those in your support network. However, when you take the time and effort to communicate your specific ED recovery needs to loved ones, it can reduce the tension and help you feel more at ease this holiday season. Not to mention, once friends or family members know what your ED recovery needs are, they will be able to offer the right kind of support, reassurance, encouragement, and accountability.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
November is officially here, which means now is the time to create an eating disorder (ED) recovery action plan for the holidays. This season can be a minefield to navigate with an eating disorder, no matter where you're at in the healing process, so it's crucial to determine in advance how you will prioritize eating disorder recovery in the midst of whatever triggers you face these next couple of months.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Just recently, I noticed something beautiful unfold within me: eating disorder recovery taught me to love my inner child after decades of rejecting her. This did not materialize overnight, but now it feels like coming home to a version of me who remembers a time before anorexia first lurked onto the scene.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
If I had to wear a name badge in public each day, it would announce to everyone around me: "Hello, my name is Perfectionist." This might seem vain or self-important, but in truth, it's debilitating because perfectionism is a roadblock to eating disorder recovery. The merciless expectations of achievement, the rigorous standards of appearance, and the continuous loop of self-deprecation can form just the right conditions for an eating disorder to take root. Therefore, to heal from an eating disorder, the roadblock of perfectionism must be overcome. This is hard work—but so necessary and worthwhile.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
The year 2020 has been stressful and overwhelming across the entire globe. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial injustices, the political tensions, and the economic downturn, my level of anxiety builds each time I read the news or log into social media. This information overload can exhaust my mental health, but as I continuously must remind myself: stress does not justify an eating disorder relapse.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
As a young woman, I am unfortunately no stranger to crude—and sometimes coercive—innuendos aimed in my direction. Like countless other women, I have been taught to use car keys as weapons of self-defense, and I know all the tactics designed to repel an attacker. However, not until I was sexually assaulted in 2017 did I recognize the full impact of this type of violation and the residual trauma it causes. Nor was I ready for how this would further exacerbate and complicate my eating disorder. But three years later, the truth remains: my eating disorder makes it difficult to heal from sexual assault.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
In November of 2019, I moved to Arizona where the mountains and desert landscape are right outside my window. Before that, I lived in Florida, about 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico's turquoise ocean and sugar-white sand. I always feel the most alive and at peace when I am outside, so it stands to reason, nature is my first line of defense in eating disorder recovery.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
While these past several months of social distancing have been necessary to help contain the global pandemic, this continued isolation can adversely impact mental health. That is true for conditions across the mental illness spectrum, but I am particularly concerned about eating disorders and suicidal thoughts in the climate of COVID-19. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Hollay Ghadery
The suicidal thoughts that plagued my mind in the throes of my eating disorder recovery were expected. I hated my body. I hated myself. I hated my life and the society in which I lived that kept telling me I was not enough. One thing I did not expect was to still feel suicidal thoughts during my eating disorder recovery. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)