Holiday Challenge: Staying in Recovery


candleBreaking free of artificial and culturally imposed standards of living and behaviors can help you make your holidays joyful regardless of your situation.

Yes, staying on your eating disorder recovery path during the holidays is a challenge, but it can be done if you clarify your vision and rally your courage to support your heart's desire.

According to the mail I'm getting, holiday worries and tension are caused by:

  • being with family for uncomfortable amounts of time
  • being around triggering food situations
  • being short on cash and long on expectations and yearnings
  • taking on tasks to create a holiday that meets with past and present expectations - often unachievable
  • being alone
  • being crowded
  • being needed
  • being neglected
  • being assumed, i.e. taken for granted you will go along with other people's plans

Do any of these situations apply to you?  Which are triggering for you and which are not?

When you are flooded by feelings associated with any of these situations your awareness of what is possible for a genuine happy holiday for yourself and your loved ones is blocked.  You are inundated with feelings and narrow vision with few or no solutions. Eating disorder messages and behaviors can look like comforting solutions or escape routes.

What if you put all these concerns in a box and set it aside? 

"Hah," you say.  "Nice trick if you can do it."

I'm suggesting that you can do it.  If you take all the things that are troubling you during the holidays and move them to the side of your mind, what have you got left?  In other words, what do the holidays really mean to you?

Breathe. Be still. Empty your mind of chores, packages, shops, cooking, decorating, money, what other people want. 

Say, "Yes, I know you are there, but I'm putting you to the side right now."

Allow what you really care about to come forward.

Once you know, then you can alter your priorities and aim for what you do want.  Will you take different actions?  Will you ask for what you want?  Will you say yes and no differently?

What are the old stories of your heritage that touch your heart?  How can you bring them into your present experience?

Hint: You won't find the answer to these questions in commercials, store fronts, Internet hype or how much you have in your bank account.













0 # I usually have some freakouts this timePTC 2011-12-22 14:35
I usually have some freakouts this time of year because I'm surrounded by food. We have huge Italian feasts and it's non-stop. We sat at the table for 5 hours on Thanksgiving. I overeat (for me), which may or may not be a "normal" amount of food for other people, and I start to feel disgustingly fat, freak out, hit the gym harder than usual and want to weigh myself a million times. I don't know if this year will be different, maybe so. Lately I've been having the "I feel like giving up" thoughts and if I have a freakout, that may happen, I don't really know. We'll see. I've got three days of lots of food ahead of me and no gym on Christmas day. At least the not working out on that one day has gotten easier.
0 # Family is the major issue for me, food ishh 2011-12-23 05:20
Family is the major issue for me, food is a little bit concerning, but mainly it's being forced to be not only in the company of people that I don't want to be, but also to cook, clean and run around looking after them some of the time too.

I just can't wait until 28th Dec when I get a family-free I'm kind of looking forward and focussing on that.

I'm also very much trying to focus on the girls, as they are the people who make it all worthwhile, and their faces when they get up and Santa has been is wonderful, as are all the hugs and cuddles and 'I love you's that they lavish on me, and even tolerating family is really for the sake of the girls, if I didn't have the girls, I probably wouldn't be seeing them half as much, just the bare minimum.

This is also going to be our first Christmas since my dad died, which might be a bit emotional, but I will be okay - the thing I'm dreading is my mum not being okay - it's understandable, I know, but I actually don't want to have to comfort her, I resent her coming to me for comfort and support when she has never shown it to me, not even as a child...the only hugs we've ever shared are the ones when she cries all over me about some hardship or other in her life and I feel obliged to offer them....oh well, I guess that prospect touches a bit of a raw nerve...but I'll be okay...28th isn't far off!
0 # shh, what a courageous post. You are defmylifex2 2011-12-23 20:51
shh, what a courageous post. You are definitely having to muster the courage this Christmas. I hope that you get to have a very, very nice December 28th!! Keep your eyes on that day. In the meantime, enjoy your girls, check in on some posts...I plan to check in here for some shots of courage myself :-)
0 # I hope you all had the best day possiblemylifex2 2011-12-25 22:29
I hope you all had the best day possible~ today was not so bad for me. I had a nice day with family. As usual, with my family, food plays the center role in get togethers. There were absolutely no surprises waiting for me here.
My mom has actually been very supportive recently and encouraged me often throughout the day. She hung in there while I criticized and found fault with my appearance today (it flows so naturally from my lips), she ate next to me in a quiet room today, and supported me in a positive way when I asked her if it was ok to eat the food on my plate. I ate some things I don't usually eat today, and my body hurts and cramps. I have jumped on those scales a million times and my life isn't ruined. The good news is that I ate, and I didn't use compensatory measures to deal with this. I feel good despite the physical discomfort. I had a great time with my kids and with my one fought or yelled today. I will check, but I am not panicking over what the scales may say tomorrow. I allowed myself to enjoy the day the best that I could. I think my meds are kicking in, and I think my brain has not starved as much the past week. Maybe I can reason better?? I will take today. It was a gift to me...I know I face the difficulty of tomorrow, but I am going to bed not starving tonight and looking foward to a day off tomorrow to play with my kids. i hope this makes sense. xxxx
0 # ugh :(mylifex2 2011-12-26 07:55
ugh :sad:
0 # quite a scare for me today. Had to see amylifex2 2011-12-26 18:49
quite a scare for me today. Had to see a doctor after having chest pain and racing heart. Spent a lot of time sick last night after eating foods my body isn't used to. EKG was normal, so I felt relieved by that. I really thought I was having a heart attack. Lots to think about here. Think I am anxious too. I did my best to avoid triggering situations. Guess they just hide in the background. One thing that concerned and upset me was that while at the doctor, and without my permission, my mom shared her concern about me not eating. The doctor asked me my height and laughed saying, "oh, she could looks ok, she could lose a few more pounds, actually"....I was both relieved to have my mom hear him say that so she can stop worrying about me, but also upset that here I am, fatiqued and with chest pain, but got the message that I should step it up a bit and that I need to try harder to lose more weight. I am trying hard not to let this affect me, but of course it is.
0 # Dear Tracy, My wish is that when youpinkjoanna 2011-12-26 20:42
Dear Tracy,

My wish is that when you and other women have such an experience your find out not only what the pain isn't but what it is. Sounds like feelings of anxiety or panic that can contribute to what you describe were not discussed. Is that so?

And, re: your doctor's statement, "she could lose a few more pounds, actually." Is that based on physical health considerations or the doctor's sense of aesthetics?

I hope you and any other woman who finds herself in your position, don't go into retreat without thoroughly checking out the details of this experience.

When a clinician says you need to lose weight or could stand to lose a few pounds, please find out the clinical basis for that evaluation. If there is none then the evaluation may be based on the clinician's personal sense of how a woman should look.

You need to know the basis of a clinical judgement and recommendation like the one you describe so you can evaluate what is being said and decide for yourself what is right for you.

Please stay present and aware, even when and especially when what is going on brings up your anxiety and misgivings.
0 # no, Joanna, he actually quite brushed memylifex2 2011-12-27 19:40
no, Joanna, he actually quite brushed me off. Made some quick comments about how stressful the holidays can be...told me to try and stress less. I was lucky to get the EKG the way he was acting so flippant. I see my psychiatrist tomorrow and will talk to her about this..both to process how he dismissed my eating disorder and the subsequent effect it has had on me, and to make sure she thinks I am ok. I am trying to get better here...I almost wished he had shaken me and screamed at me to stop being so stupid lol...but then, I am glad he didn't because maybe it's not so bad.

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