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Getting Through Obstacles to Eating Disorder Recovery

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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?

 

 

 

 

Comments  

Jan
0 # I recognize my emotional limits when I fJan 2011-12-05 17:35
I recognize my emotional limits when I feel myself getting overwhelmed, too much going on, can't get anything right- lots to do and can't give my proper attention to any of it- leading to more stress and getting nothing done- Have recently developed new "side ropes" to grab hold of some breathing techniques and 10 minute meditation to ground myself- its feels such a safe place for me to step into rather than continuing on in the chaos. This is real respect and kindness and awareness now knowing i can help myself out of this situation - it is so healing and rejuventing. In this space is the real true me who can handle things, knows what to do and her own boundaries to getting things done... thanks felt good to share that!! ....
pinkjoanna
0 # Thank you, Jan. Your "side ropes" are fapinkjoanna 2011-12-05 18:04
Thank you, Jan. Your "side ropes" are fabulous. This is real recovery work.

I hope others read your post and are inspired to develop their own side ropes.

Beautiful.

Thank you. Feels good for you to share that. Feels good to me to read it. :-)
mylifex2
0 # I liked Jan's post as well. I tend to pumylifex2 2011-12-05 18:29
I liked Jan's post as well. I tend to push myself too far and get myself to the point of exhaustion, both physically and emotionally. A couple of months ago I was over-committing myself both at work and with my church, and my extended family. On top of all of this I was juggling a stressful full time job, extra-curricular activities for my children and dealing with my youngest child's newly diagnosed autism. I didn't see myself gradually going under until I was full fledged depressed and could barely get out of bed.
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.
Jan
0 # Thanks Joanna! :) Tracy, i understand yoJan 2011-12-05 19:26
Thanks Joanna! :-) Tracy, i understand you totally, i kept "crashing" from physical and mental/emotional exhaustion - my therapist helped me identify that it is "overwhelm" mainly too many emotions going on at once and we just can't cope....so now when i feel this I recognize it- U use the side ropes as above, but also another really funny thing I do sometimes is just shout STOP!!!!!! then all the thoughts, feelings and emotions just ground to a halt! Staring at the ceiling is cool too cos you "STOPPED" and allowed yourself to recoup! We are getting there!
mylifex2
0 # Your welcome, Jan :) except for me (inmylifex2 2011-12-05 20:06
Your welcome, Jan :-)
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..
shh
0 # Gosh, reading your responses stirs up ashh 2011-12-06 00:53
Gosh, reading your responses stirs up a lot for me....I let things build to a point where I feel paralysed by having too much to do, too many demands on me, too much to think about. And if anyone passes comment that I don't seem my usual cheery self, I tend to say "it's okay, I'm okay" or "I'm okay, I'm fine really" when really I'm not.

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
mylifex2
0 # I think we all here tend to hide our feemylifex2 2011-12-06 04:18
I think we all here tend to hide our feelings and be "ok" even when we aren't. Good grief, if we can hide our ED
mylifex2
0 # if we can hide our eating disorder frommylifex2 2011-12-06 04:26
if we can hide our eating disorder from people for so long (the thing that makes us the most "not ok") then we can hide just about any other feeling or emotion. shh, I definitely know your burden...I know how you are feeling right now. I also know you are struggling so hard with the pending end to your sessions. hmmmm, there was a blog post on here somewhere from someone that was a guest blogger...she wrote a book...something about emotional healing ...a workbook..can't remember the name, but I thought about you when I read the post last night..it sounds like something you could use right now. I wish I knew a way to tell you how to open up to people and how to let someone supportive know when you aren't ok...because I haven't mastered that. I am just now starting to learn how to not ADD to my stress by practicing the word "no"...doesnt mean I know how to ask for help. i hope your day goes better. have you told your therapist how badly you are feeling about the sessions ending?
mylifex2
0 # shh the book is called Learning the Toolmylifex2 2011-12-06 04:28
shh the book is called Learning the Tools to Emotional Management...think I may pick it up as well :-)
xx tracy
PTC
0 # I think I'm at the point where I just waPTC 2011-12-06 05:11
I think I'm at the point where I just want to say "screw it" and go back to weighing myself all the time and lose some weight, not a lot, just like 2 lbs. I'm just sick of it. I don't know what's going to happen when my T goes on maternity leave. I really just might say "screw it" and go back to everything. I don't know.
shh
0 # Apologies for my earlier response beingshh 2011-12-06 06:57
Apologies for my earlier response being so negative..and thankyou for your support Tracy! It was a moment of realisation, typing what I typed - I already know that I keep things to myself because I'm scared of being a burden to others, but what I never realised until now, is that the deeper reason behind it, is not wanting to have to feel the hurt of realising that nobody cares enough about me to care how I feel anyway! I am still a big fan of journalling really, it helps me no end! We tried meditation and retreating mentally to a "safe place" in therapy....but it was a complete disaster! My only accessible "safe place" in my head is a place, that I always said that if I ever really got there, I would finally be able to relax, but then I would have to die there, as not to have to face making the return to my "real life" and all that, that holds. (I suspect that maybe I'm in a better place these days than I was when we've tried it in the past)
mylifex2
0 # you guys sound like your having a prettymylifex2 2011-12-06 15:23
you guys sound like your having a pretty tough day..it's ok..I have lots of those..hope your day went better than your morning!

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JoannaPoppink California’s ban on alligator imports could be delayed despite animal rights appeals https://t.co/4WiOPN4tyB
10hreplyretweetfavorite
JoannaPoppink Latest Sustainable World online now. https://t.co/x0Mbr3zWNq #wifia #california
10hreplyretweetfavorite
JoannaPoppink A major Kern County oil spill in environmentally conscious California https://t.co/LzLGB962xt by @sherlyholmes
22hreplyretweetfavorite
JoannaPoppink Latest Sustainable World online now. https://t.co/GW1Q9amkOf #california #climate
22hreplyretweetfavorite
JoannaPoppink The five: genetic fixes for the climate crisis https://t.co/EGTCJKbszo

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