Getting Through Obstacles to Eating Disorder Recovery
- Category: Psychotherapy and Recovery Work
My blog post about obstacles to eating disorder recovery is bringing in some wonderful and thoughtful comments that are taking the form of a conversation. It's heartwarming to see you supporting each other through the nitty gritty of eating disorder recovery work.
Your genuine caring and generous sharings are very welcome here. Your conversations help each other and others who need support and a place to speak their truth and be heard. You help make this site a place where people can hear and learn how others cope with the challenges in recovery.
Please let me add something to the conversation. As you share stories of your lives with each other here, on Facebook, other websites and in person, you share your feelings. Sometimes you criticize yourself for what you feel. Sometimes you rush to help someone or yourself soothe your feelings away.
It's important to know that eating disorders take you away from feelings and awareness. That's their function. They remove you from experience you believe you cannot cope with. And, it may well be true that you cannot cope with certain feelings or certain intensities of feeling.
So recovery is about gradually developing your inner strength to bear feelings you couldn't bear before. It's not about having good or bad feelings. It's about having any feeling. So feeling mad, bad, glad, sad are all wins in recovery work. You are feeling rather than acting out your eating disorder.
Many people don't understand this and get caught in thinking about good feelings or bad feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, painful or happy. Recovery is about feeling any feeling at all.
Support is about helping a person stay with their feelings. It's like working out. You gradually increase your strength so you can tolerate more.
Rescuing and soothing, as much as you want them and as much as you want to give them, actually can reinforce your illness because you are doing whatever you can to get away from your feelings.
On the other hand, a balance is necessary so you don't overdo, traumatize yourself and set off eating disorder triggers. That balance between bearing feelings and yet not pushing yourself to bear more than you can may well be the core of eating disorder treatment. It requires sensitive artistry based on knowledge, caring, empathy and commitment in the work between patient and psychotherapist.
This is why kindness and compassion are important in recovery work. You learn your limits, even if you are disappointed in what those limits may be. You stay on your recovery path and are kind to yourself as you do what you can and feel what you can -- no more but also no less.
Do you "rescue" yourself too soon? Do you push yourself too far? How do you recognize your emotional limits and care for yourself with respect and kindness?
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I hope others read your post and are inspired to develop their own side ropes.
Thank you. Feels good for you to share that. Feels good to me to read it.
I opened up to my mother after she sat down with me and voiced her concern over how tired I looked. I spoke with my therapist at my next session and decided to get rid of some of the extraneous stress. I was starting to recognize my emotional limits. I am very bad at saying "no"...I hate to inconvenience people or to "go back on my word"...however, I forced myself to put my church obligations on hold, dropped my youngest out of gymnastics for a while, and stopped being the mother who always felt compelled to bake an item for school parties. I allowed my friends to take the girls a few hours every now and then so I could have a nap, shop, or just sit and stare at the ceiling...I was very proud of myself for doing this. I felt immediate relief and was able to get my head above water again. Since then, I have been more mindful of setting limits with others. Again, my kids are my primary motivator because I want to be the best mom I can be. I was getting cranking and irritable with them, and that was not good. So this is a positive thing for me that has come out of pushing myself too far.
except for me (in this instance), I don't think most humans would be coping well with all I was trying to do. One of my problems is that I take on too much because, one, I can't say no, and two, I compare myself to others who "do alot", yet I fail to recognize that some of the same people I idealize, have husbands who assist with the kids, and are able to work from home, or work part-time. I have unrealistic expectations of myself...trying to figure out where this comes from...
Sooo, now when I am taking care of myself in this regard, I stop and tell myself that it doesn't matter if someone is mad at me, or disappointed in me (which is probably not even the case)..I know that right now I have to lessen my stress because it greatly impacts my depression (of course) and it worsens my ED. I am hoping this carries over to taking care of myself in other aspects (like my ED). I think the difference between the two is that my ED is a form of control and my over-committment and stress that ensues makes me feel out of control...I don't like feeling out of control..
I feel like it's very burdensome to others to let them know that you're not feeling great, I feel like it's important to be "strong" so that I can support others and not have anyone expending time and energy on worrying about me, or not to have to feel the hurt that nobody cares anyway....so I'm always fine....I will tend to find a bright side to things somewhere and cling on to that.
Quite often, I want to just withdraw and use my ED to get by.
I'm relying on my ED quite heavily to get by at the moment...so prob not best placed to have anything constructive to say