How Long Does It Take to Recover from Bulimia or Anorexia? Part 3


What does it take to Heal from Bulimia or Anorexia? Healing from anorexia and bulimia requires development along all seven points I described in my last post. But what does it take to actually heal? And why does this healing take a long time? When I went back to college after a 13-year absence from academia, UCLA gave me a yellow piece of paper that listed my required courses. When I completed everything on the list UCLA would grant me a degree in psychology.

The sheet was 81/2 x 11 inches. I tacked it on the wall above my desk and set to work. Every four months I checked off three classes. It took me three years to work through that one sheet of paper and qualify for my first diploma. Below is a short list of developmental tasks that can take several or many years to move through. Still, like my yellow sheet on the wall, the list can inspire a person to keep on keeping on. Perhaps, most importantly, the list confronts a person with realistic goals when her mind starts making excuses and rationalizing false beliefs.

Affirmation for Necessary Healing Development
Here are some of the developmental tasks written affirmation form so even reading them begins or supports recovery. 



  1. I tolerate my feelings. 
  2. I am realistically aware of what is going on outside and inside my own skin. 
  3. I know how to establish and honor personal boundaries 
  4. I know how to make myself safe. 
  5. I know how to recognize reasonable and honorable people.
  6. I know how to enlist the help of reasonable and honorable people in a fair and honest way. 
  7.  I know how to discriminate between healthy and unhealthy activities, environments and companions. 
  8. I know how to makes honest, self-caring and honorable choices based on healthy observation. 
  9. I know my own genuine weaknesses and strengths. 
  10. I take responsible action in the world. 
  11. I know when to say, “No.” 
  12. I am able to say, “No,” even if I am uncomfortable about saying so.
  13. Regardless of the challenges life presents, I know and trust that I have what it takes to live a good life. 

Thirteen Breaks the Pattern
I created thirteen tasks in this list. The number thirteen has significance. It means breaking an old pattern. It means emerging as something new or a new variation on an old theme. Actually, as I write this I surprise myself because I began this post by revealing my thirteen-year hiatus from school. I didn’t make the connection till just now. That’s how the psyche works. After thirteen years out of school I returned to resume my education on a new path, build a career and create a new life that was and is much better than the life I had completed. Thirteen was the break the pattern signal. And I didn’t know that consciously till just now.

Developmental Benefits
When a person makes positive strides in the direction of achieving these developmental tasks, the eating disorder has less of a function in her life. The person discovers much better ways of taking care of her psychological and survival needs and expands her life into more enriching experiences. The eating disorder is less or even no longer necessary. How long does this take? It takes as long as it takes to accomplish these tasks. The actual time differs with each person. How each task is accomplished involves the work in psychotherapy that leads to the past, the present and the future. It leads to new ways of thinking, feeling and responding. It leads to grand discoveries of where a person is truly interested and of how she wants to invest her life energies. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight and the work isn’t easy. However, the good news is that you don’t have to wait for full recovery to reap benefits of healing. Every step of the healing process allows the person to be more competent in the world, experience the joy of being more capable and especially, able to connect with other good people in a satisfying and healthy way. By all means, let me know your thoughts about this. I welcome your sharing. Joanna Poppink, MFT, psychotherapist eating disorder specialist, Los Angeles, CA bulimia, anorexia, compulsive overeating recovery


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