Obstacles to Eating Disorder Recovery


I believe in what I'm doing - providing genuine methods to heal from eating disorders that honor the individual. As I do my psychotherapy work, and outreach to let others know of my work, I discover new obstacles to recovery.

My challenge is to break free from my traditional ways of speaking and writing. I need to go more to the core - not the core of the eating disorder - but the core of the obstacles that prevent people from getting on their recovery path.

Once a woman enters my practice, committed to her recovery, I am confident that whatever challenges arise, we can weather the storms and keep heading toward full recovery. This may seem grandiose, but I have 25 years of experience behind me that shores up my confidence.

Entering my practice with commitment to heal is beset with new obstacles today.  Communication with others across space and time is wonderfully easy with our technology.  You can access information of all sorts, and misinformation too.  You can receive support for your recovery.  You can receive support for maintaining your illness.

Pro ana and Pro mia sites are notorious for supporting illness.  Their destructive message is blatant. But other forms of group support are also destructive.  They disguise themselves as supporting recovery when, in fact, unknowingly and with love, they too support illness.

Living with an eating disorder means living with pain, fear, terror, rage, indignation and an inability to sort through the stimuli that comes from living in a complex world. Support that attacks the complex world and seeks to make the individual comfortable and safe does not support recovery.  It may contribute to creating an environment necessary for healing work to begin.  But too often I see people seeking the safe haven as the goal without understanding that once in a safe or more safe environment the healing work must begin.

This means to me that I need to present information that seemingly has little to do with eating disorders directly, but has everything to do with understanding and honoring self and development in the world as it is.

What do you think your obstacles to recovery really are? Do you run to safe havens and fast answers? Are you impatient or feel like  failure if you don't experience immediate relief?


0 # I'm very impatient when it comes to everPTC 2011-11-28 14:39
I'm very impatient when it comes to everything, and with this, I feel things should all of a sudden just be better. My biggest obstacle, not wanting to gain weight.
0 # I guess the things that spring to mind ashh 2011-11-28 15:13
I guess the things that spring to mind are...

...finding it hard to accept that there is no "cure", that this is a lifelong battle & committment
...desperately wanting to fool yourself that you're in recovery, even when you're not
...finding the self belief and self worth to be able to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel
...being honest with yourself when you are so used to living a life of lies
...trusting yourself to bear the hurt, pain, tears and anguish that are part of the journey
0 # my biggest obstacles are not wanting tomylifex2 2011-11-28 16:10
my biggest obstacles are not wanting to lose control over "my" world, and not wanting to face the stress of life fat. For so long people have told me how to feel, think and act. My eating disorder gives me a buffer that tells the world to screw itself. My therapist says I am saying "Don't mess with me"...I guess that fear is an obstacle, cuz who wants to be messed with?
Laura R
0 # Some of my obstacles right now: - beingLaura R 2011-11-29 04:39
Some of my obstacles right now:
- being ok with not knowing if I have gained or lost when RD weighs me
- sitting with big feelings like fear & disappointment
- trusting my team when they say I can feel better if I keep working at this
0 # I agree entirely what you are doing hereJan 2011-12-03 03:10
I agree entirely what you are doing here Joanna, and detest the sights where people are thriving on talking about what is going wrong day after day with no real solutions as to wanting to take the step to recover.

I always feel my obstacles are lack of support - someone to talk to when am struggling - also notice that everything can be going well then suddenly if I get tired or stressed I start to think about if I have gained weight, like I need to be in control of something again and this is one area have always been in control of - I then have an area where I can put the panick stress and tiredness into I guess- !!!The good thing is I am aware of this and just like tonight am very tired but am relaxing and allowing my body to rest and give it some nutritious food....
0 # PTC, Shh, Tracy, Laura R and Jan, Thapinkjoanna 2011-12-03 13:26
PTC, Shh, Tracy, Laura R and Jan,

Thank you for these wonderful sharings. Just pulling them out of your psyche and putting them into words is helpful for you and me.

You want recovery. I want to help you find your recovery. At this point I believe we need to be explorers and "discover" earlier recovery steps that are neglected, ignored or invisible now. Then my job and eventually yours, is to create the right conditions so we can take those steps.

The metaphor doesn't hold well because often the step you need to take has to do with being still, quiet and patient rather than taking action.

If more or different obstacles to your recovery occur to you, please let me know.

Thank you so much.

0 # It is so hard to sit still when your minmylifex2 2011-12-03 21:14
It is so hard to sit still when your mind is constantly obsessing on food issues. I am sitting here tonight feeling so depressed and hopeless about this whole thing. I feel miserable because I resorted to a past coping mechanism for eating lunch today. While sitting in the quietness tonight, however, I had a very sudden time travel back to age 12. These feelings I have now - being the emotions, the fear, the obsessions, the hopelessness - are the EXACT
0 # are the exact and very same feelings thatracy 2011-12-03 21:37

are the exact and very same feelings that I experienced during the 3 months before my grandfather died. I could not cope with all of the feelings that were welling up inside me.

You see, he took away my childhood, my innocence. Those months before he died, I was so emotionally sick. I was desperate..I thought I was "bad". I asked God to just take me..I felt that no one could ever know how bad I felt. I felt embarrassed to ask for help, embarrassed that I was so "crazy".

No one ever acknowledged the abuse..maybe they didn't know, maybe they refused to acknowledge it, I don't know. The day we buried my grandfather, the very same day, I felt a huge burden fall off my small back.

I have spent time in therapy crying over this little 12 year old girl, I see her face, I see her empty eyes in most of her childhood pictures...I mourn for her. Tonight, I realize that I feel that same way...the way I felt before he died. I am obsessed, crazy, and miserable. I see no way out. 

My realization tonight is that I don't think that litte girl ever grew up, she is still in there, she is just carrying a different burden (or maybe it's still the same one)? I feel as clueless as I did then to help myself. But I think tonight I really connected with these two parts of myself..I really need to work very hard (and compassionately) with this in therapy.

I am still fragile. I am not a bad person. I got thru that time (alone) with no therapy, with no one who knew why I was so messed up. I need to reach that little girl. She needs to be hugged. She needs to feel like she is worth something. She needs to know that living is not just the filling between being born and dying. That there is life within that living. She needs to know she did nothing wrong. She is not marked for all to see.

I am glad to have had this thought come to me tonight. I don't know if this post sounds negative and as if I am feeling sorry for myself. That is not the intent at all. I truly feel I had a breakthrough tonight. I know I rambled, I don't care. I also feel a little better.

0 # Sounds great to me! You're staying withpinkjoanna 2011-12-03 22:53
Sounds great to me! You're staying with the uncomfortable feelings, exploring them and making discoveries.

You feel what you felt as a child and bring your adult sensibilities to the experience. You vow to help a vulnerable aspect of yourself.

This is a positive post, an inspiring post, a teaching post. I didn't read any rambling. I read courage and determination to heal.


0 # Tracy I just want to say that a lot oshh 2011-12-04 05:54

I just want to say that a lot of the positive recovery work comes fron negative past experiences, and even things like sitting in tears grieving for a childhood that was taken from you, although it is of course tears and grief, is by no means negative, if we don't grieve, we never really move on properly.
I'm so proud of you! xx
0 # thanks guys! I woke up this morning feemylifex2 2011-12-04 06:51
thanks guys! I woke up this morning feeling a bit different than I have in a while. As I was fixing breakfast for my girls, I did not get the usual wave of disgust along with horrible negative self talk. I decided not to eat, but I contemplated the idea that food is not a bad thing. That I need to eat, that maybe it is good for me to eat..and...that I am not a bad person if I eat...I often cannot hang on to feelings like this for very long...I pray that I have a good day. I will be in the presence of some stressful company today, so it will be a huge test. I am just happy for a better morning. I will take it. Shh, thank you for all of your peer support. I read so many of your comments from the past months and you are a really big motivator for me. Thank you. I hope you all have a really nice Sunday :-)
0 # Hi Tracy, sounds like you are doing greaJan 2011-12-04 17:40
Hi Tracy, sounds like you are doing great, and what you already achieved this morning is a very positive sign for you- you felt it you experienced it - now you know its there and nobody can take that away- and its always accessible....:-) yeah well done...... I just feel the rest of your day will be positive for you too.

0 # I hope someone can relate to what I am amylifex2 2011-12-04 19:40
I hope someone can relate to what I am about to say. Part of my stressful day today was that it was centered around food. My friends and I started a tradition a few years ago with our children, where we get together and bake tons of cookies and decorate them and then pick some to take home. My friend also made a huge lunch, which was probably the more stressful part for me, trying to feel safe with food and not draw attention to myself. It was also hard for me as my best friend invited her boyfriend and his kids. I had to watch them be a happy couple all day long. I am so happy for my friend as she deserves a decent man. But the hard stuff for me is that watching them brings up feelings of what I don't have. It's easy for me to blame my lack of long term relationships on feeling ugly and fat. But the true reason it is hard on me is because I am jealous that I can't feel comfortable in a relationship. My friend is quite overweight but exudes the confidence of a supermodel. I feel quite inadequate around her. Then I start with all the negative thoughts about myself. THEN !!! he comes up to me and asked for my blessing in his christmas eve proposal to her. I smiled as my heart sank. I truly am happy for her!! but i am sad for me. It's kind of like being the last kid picked on the playground. This sounds so immature I know. But I know the role it plays in my life. Ok the good news is that I managed to enjoy my day overall...I came home and ate my safe food, but I ate. I didn't punish myself by skipping dinner or binging. I do have enough insight into my ED that I know this engagement will be the perfect storm for me to buckle down and continue my (false) perception that I am "winning" because I have control over what I put into my mouth...that starving numbs me to feeling this rejection as badly as I could. That being thinner than my friend makes me the real "winner" here and she can have her husband...that I have "control" ..sounds quite sick, huh? but this insight is progress, and sharing it with all of you and looking like a jealous lunatic is also progress, believe it or not. ok, this is my rant for the day :-)
0 # Wonderful conversation. Let me add thatpinkjoanna 2011-12-04 19:43
Wonderful conversation. Let me add 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, that may be real.

So recovery is about gradually developing the inner strength to bear feelings you couldn't bear before. It's not about good or bad feelings. It's about 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.

Mmm. I better put this in a blog post.
0 # wow, I didn't know this was recovery. Imylifex2 2011-12-04 20:25
wow, I didn't know this was recovery. I thought it was me feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for explaining this to me. I do see what you are saying.
0 # :) I just put up a blog post elaboratpinkjoanna 2011-12-04 20:56

I just put up a blog post elaborating a bit on this essential point.

Feeling sorry for yourself counts as feeling. So does envy, jealousy, rage, etc. Human beings are capable of feeling many powerful emotions. We don't have to suppress them and we don't have to act them out. We let them play themselves through and learn what they teach us.
0 # :)I just put up a blog post elaboratpinkjoanna 2011-12-04 20:58
:-) I just put up a blog post elaborating a bit on this essential point. Feeling sorry for yourself counts as feeling. So does envy, jealousy, rage, etc. Human beings are capable of feeling many powerful emotions. We don't have to suppress them, and we don't have to act them out. We let them play themselves through and learn what they teach us about being human.

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