How Do I Start Recovery? Take Your First Step From Here.


back_view_of_woman_standing"How do I begin recovery from an eating disorder?" That question haunts women's hearts and minds. Letters, e-mails, tweets, blogs, discussion groups and forums are filled with bewildered voices in pain struggling to know how to end their eating disorder way of living.

If you are asking this question you know the answer is

difficult to find because of your own self criticism and impossibly high demands you make of yourself. You may condemn yourself for needing help. You may feel that you are a failure because you can't "figure out" what to do to help yourself.  You may feel weak and incompetent because you can't simply "stop" your eating disorder behaviors.

You may feel that you have no direction. You may be certain that you see no signs that point to where you need to be going and what you need to be doing. You come up with a blank feeling at the best of times and and hopeless depair at the worst.

An answer does exist.  It's the same answer for all of us yet different for each of us.  The answer is, you begin where you are. That's why you don't see arrows. Beginning your healing isn't about going somewhere.  It's about being here, right where you are.

So, where are you? The major task you face is to look down and see your feet and where you are standing.

Look carefully at where you are. And when you thoroughly accept where you are, then you take a step toward what is good for you. You move one foot forward.

This is a metaphor, but it's a real metaphor.  Where are you? Are you standing on a scale? Are you alone in an apartment? Are you in a home with husband and children? Are you in school? Are you living in a friend's house or with your parents? Do you have a job? Do you like it? Are you in any kind of danger? Are you being hurt, stalked, frightened, threatened? Is someone abusing you?

Are you sacrificing your dreams and goals for yourself because you are trying to please someone else or because you feel guilty or foolish for having those dreams?  Do your heartfelt dreams seem impossible to reach or impossible to even try for?  Do you feel it's too late to go after your dreams?

And what do dreams or abuse or where you live have to do with your eating disorder? 

If you think about what triggers your eating disorder behavior and are precise and honest about documenting your triggers, you will discover that you act out to stop unbearable pain. To ignore what you genuinely care about is terribly painful.

The first step you take from where you are right now that is in your own best interests is your step toward eating disorder recovery. You may not address eating behavior for quite a while.  But your beginning is to look at where you are in your life and take a small action to improve the quality of your life.

That might mean saying "no" to someone. It might mean locking a door. It might mean going on job interviews or taking a class in something you like but have been neglecting. It might mean dividing up chores differently. It might mean making moves to live in a safer environment. It might mean writing a journal or going to church. It might mean taking a shower and going for a walk.


If you look carefully and honestly at where you are you will recognize what your first step needs to be. After you take that step you will be in a new here and now.  And again, from where you are you take your next step.



What's a step you can take now to start improving the quality of your life?


First Step Quotes

Step by Step quotes




0 # Step by Step quote for you: Day by DaKymL 2010-11-16 12:26
Step by Step quote for you:

Day by Day, Step by Step, I become more unbroken; And although I may fall....I'm forever falling Forward.

It's from a website called "Forever Falling Forward."
0 # I love it! Thank you.pinkjoanna 2010-11-16 16:30
I love it! Thank you.
0 # Hi Joanna Recovery does start exactly wNina 2010-12-02 05:53
Hi Joanna
Recovery does start exactly where you are at. Sometimes the actual decision to start is the hardest. I also believe that it is a process and I always say that my recovery started long before I actually felt "recovered". I think that part of the disease is that it wants us to believe that we are not recovering when we actually are. Every time we reach out, talk about what is going on and make small changes - that is recovery
0 # Dear Nina, Well said. Recovery work ipinkjoanna 2010-12-02 20:02
Dear Nina,

Well said. Recovery work is usually a long string of tiny moments in which you respect yourself and, as you say, reach out to more or different from what's usual as you live your eating disorder. Often those tiny change don't seem like recovery from the changes are small and the eating disorder is huge in your life. But, the eating disorder is rigid and will fall as those many tiny changes make you for resilient and flexible. As you grow the eating disorder gets shaken up and starts to collapse.

And as you say and as I agree, everything happens in the now, where we are in the moment.

Thank you for contributing to the site. I hope to hear from you again. What's recovery like for you now?
Alison Jenkins
0 # It's so true that you start your recoverAlison Jenkins 2010-12-08 11:12
It's so true that you start your recovery from exactly where you are today. I work with lots of eating disorder clients who all begin from different places. Many of my clients can't bear to go and see someone in person which is why they use online counselling. Isolation is a major part of an eating disorder. Reaching out for help is the hardest thing I ever had to do to find my own recovery. I always view recovery in terms of one baby step after the next.

0 # Thank you Alison. The great thing aboutpinkjoanna 2010-12-09 10:03
Thank you Alison. The great thing about starting recovery from wherever you are is that you can start recovery any time. It's always the right time to begin healing.

The isolation people crave when they have an eating disorder is part of always holding back. It's easier to keep secrets about yourself when no one can see you. To be visible and in the presence of another person, especially another person who is a psychotherapist with a reputation for being able to understand others, the person with the eating disorder cannot control what the other sees. That can raise unbearable anxiety.

It's also why establishing earned and deserved trust is essential in the therapeutic relationship.

Allowing someone to meet you as you are and allowing yourself to respond honestly to someone who is meeting you as you are is critical for eating disorder recovery. It's also, in early days, a great challenge.

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