Are you all too familiar with the inner eating disorder voice's monologue which tries to convince you that self-worth can only be achieved with a perfect body? This critical, insidious whisper does not come from you—it's the influence of an eating disorder that aims to control your decisions and undermine your wholeness. But a foundational part of recovery is learning how to both identify and confront the eating disorder voice in your head.
Ever wonder what long-term eating disorder recovery looks like? Eleven years ago, I could never have imagined what my life would look like now. I assumed based on what everyone was saying that it would be better, but the day-to-day nuances of existence were beyond me. These details were so beyond me, in fact, that it was often hard for me to focus on the short-term goals I set for myself in my recovery. Goals like making time for mindfulness, getting more sleep, getting outside, deep breathing, and paring down my negative self-talk would be crushed under the weight of what the unknown future held.
As a college freshman, I was hospitalized for anorexia. It's been almost a decade since then, but no one told me about the pain—and payoffs—of residential eating disorder treatment. I had just embarked on a harrowing three-month process that would stretch, unravel, and change me.
Trying new foods and eating disorder recovery went hand and hand for me. For years, my eating disorder had me believing that there were only a handful of foods that were good and the rest I needed to avoid like the plague or I'd gain weight. However, this thinking was holding back my recovery.
Here is a truth about me that I once believed to be impossible: My eating disorder is not at the forefront of my mind right now—and I love the way it feels. All my mental energy used to be allocated to tracking how many calories I ate, miles I ran, or pounds I weighed. I fixated on these so incessantly, in fact, that I had no stamina and concentration to focus on anything else.
As the United States is ablaze in chaos that has erupted from systemic racial violence, I find myself worried for the mental health of Black men and women because—false stereotypes aside—Black people suffer from eating disorders too.
I've had a home office for over a decade--long before it became a forced norm of the COVID-19 pandemic--and during this time, I noticed how working from home affected my eating disorder recovery. It wasn't a smooth road, but with a few strategies, I learned how to support my eating disorder (ED) recovery with healthy habits.
I understand it's a privilege to have a solid and committed eating disorder support network. I know that some people must fight the treacherous current of their eating disorders alone. But I am fortunate to pursue recovery with the relentless encouragement of so many loved ones around me, and I just feel compelled right now to share an open letter to those in my eating disorder support network who stuck with me throughout this entire ordeal.
A change of perspective can do wonders to change your mindset, and this is why, when my destructive thoughts get to be too much, I go to nature to support my eating disorder recovery.
Have you become stuck in the tension of how to approach eating disorder recovery when you don't feel ready? This is a common dilemma—the belief that you can't pursue healing until the motivation, desire, and commitment all of a sudden materialize.