Self-Care is Crucial to my Eating Disorder Recovery
I suffered from a mental illness for many years and at the time, felt powerless against it. My eating disorder, bulimia consumed every aspect of my life. Now 5 years into the recovery process, I stay recovered by maintaining a level of self-care that goes way beyond simply avoiding triggers and practicing coping skills. Without self-care, my recovery would be compromised.
Self-Care is Healing in Eating Disorder Recovery
I had no idea what ‘self-care’ was up until I started therapy a few years ago and started to apply it to my daily life, in order to maximize my recovery outcome. Part of my healing has meant to learn that I need to nurture myself on a daily basis. "Self-care" isn't the best known expression; and so the following is what I mean when I describe "self-care" and its importance to the recovery process:
Self-Care is the Gift That Keeps on Giving:
If I take care of myself, I actually make better decisions, even simple ones, which result in better self-image and better feelings about myself and where I fit in the world. In turn, this leads to a positive reinforcement loop, because when I feel good about myself, I can be there for others, which re-affirms my positive feelings.
Self-Care is Empowering:
It allows me to feel ok with sometimes putting myself first. Part of my positive mental health comes from being able to say yes, or no, with certainty. That certainty comes from maintaining my one goal: loving myself and choosing recovery. That is the reason why I will pass on that 7:30 breakfast meeting unless I have no choice, or that important event I must RSVP to ASAP. What may appear like trivial things to others, are sometimes events which I know to be harmful, so saying no and looking out for my own best interests are part of what keeps me recovered.
Listening to my Needs Doesn’t Mean Overindulging:
There is a fine line between listening to what my mind and body wants versus allowing myself to have too much of a good thing. This is especially true when one is at the beginning of eating disorder recovery, or when working in therapy on uncovering what is at the root of self-harm behaviors. In my case, guilt played a big role. I felt I didn’t "deserve" to take time for myself, eat certain foods, or have certain drinks. In recovery, I soon learned nothing was off limits, as long as I could establish guidelines/boundaries for myself and others.
Self-Care Also Means Taking Time for Yourself:
Even though you have a busy schedule, we all need to recharge sometimes, which is why sometimes I take a solo walk at lunchtime. This allows me to be alone, support my own thoughts and permits me to disconnect from my emails!
Self-Care Helps You Discover Who You Are in Recovery
When practicing self-care, you might allow yourself to open up to new activities you never even thought you liked. That happened to me! I remember in therapy, I was asked ‘Where do you find joy in your every day life?’ Sadly, at the time I couldn't really answer that question. Truthfully, I had a hard time finding an activity that simply brought joy to my life, as a simple pleasure. Sure, there were activities I was good at, which made me feel proud of myself, but that really isn't the same thing as finding an activity pleasurable, pleasurable activity, where regardless of the outcome, the journey was the best part.
I used to care a lot more what people thought. My biggest fears included others thinking it was weird that I refused to eat between meals, or that I avoided certain topics of conversation; but in part, self-care taught me that what I care about most is my well-being, and that is key to my recovery.
So with this post dear readers, I challenge you to find something that makes you happy for a period of time and share it with me. If you have it already, let me know how you have fun. If you don't have an activity for fun's sake, try some things you may like and let me know how it went. It might just change your life! In the interest of sharing, I'll tell you mine: I realized that just talking about my illness and how I was coping in recovery brought me joy. I kept journaling about it, and thought that maybe one day if I was far enough into my recovery, I would speak and share my story publicly. That’s actually what I started to do last winter, and in the springtime I was invited to join this very blog, and I've been connecting with you guys ever since. It's now a big part of my healing process. Thank you for reading me!
Lemoine, P. (2013, October 8). Self-Care is Crucial to my Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2013/10/self-care-is-crucial-to-my-eating-disorder-recovery
Author: Patricia Lemoine
Thanks for another great post, Patricia. This is something I needed a reminder on.
Thank you Jade! We all need little reminders...including me! ;)
Such a great post! And a reminder of how crucial self-care is in recovery. It really does remind you that you are *worthy* of recovery and help you work through those feelings of guilt. In my first treatment center we even talked about things as simple as buying ourselves a few flowers and putting them on the kitchen table.
I'm glad you're finding this blog helpful to your healing process -- your posts are certainly inspiring to those of us who are earlier on in our recovery!
Thank you Jess! I really appreciate you sharing your experience and connecting with me and everyone who reads this blogs about your #edrecovery.
Truly it's the little things that matter in self-care; I'm still learning that everyday :) Thank you again.
Your post,was inspirational , thank you. I am struugling with this thought , as I feel,it is not worthy and others are more important. I suffered from Anoreia 25 years ago, and. Then got to a stage in my life where I was comfortable with myself. I am now 46 , and just over 12 months ago I lost my partner in a homicide, his son shot him, I can appear strong of the outside and think all is ok, but I hav e returned to using the anorexia as a coping skill but now at the point where I feel so physically ill and my mental state is full of paranoia and I want to stop therapy. But I am very thankful for your article.
I'm sorry to hear you had to go through such experiences; sometimes, certain events happen and we don't know why, but then later on we understand why perhaps.
Appearing strong on the outside is perhaps a coping skill and maybe, just maybe feeling like stopping therapy is another manifestation of that desire to illustrate strength on the outside. My point is this: if you need therapy, do it if you can afford it and if you have the right support system around you. I am glad you found solace in the article. Thank you for connecting again, I appreciate it. #staystrong