If you have or had an eating disorder, January can be difficult emotional territory. The promises of the new year and the activities of the holidays fade. Coping with feelings can be difficult when days are the usual Monday through Friday with a week-end attached, just like before.
Coping with feelings as holidays end
The hope for sudden and lasting change fragments. If you were happy during the holidays you hoped it would set a new trend for your everyday life. If you were sad and lonely during the holidays you hoped that you would start a new way of living that would bring in more friendship and community.
Now the vastness of your normal world surrounds you. Coping with your feelings as you experience your familiar stress and anxiety seems even more difficult as you return to your familiar schedule after the holiday bump..
Your challenge is coping with feelings
Your challenge is to realize that the outside events of the season do not bring changes to your life. The inside events in your heart and soul, in your mind and perspective can and often do bring changes to your life. The engine that starts the change is within. To begin you need new ways to effectively cope with feelings without bingeing or restricting.
Getting into committed psychotherapy to find and travel your eating disorder recovery path can introduce you to the experience of positive change. This is a gradual experience that requires work and commitment, but it does happen.
To prepare yourself for your healing journey I recommend that you read or re-read Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces. This is the classic that can help guide you through your journey to eating disorder recovery and a better life. Reading it and going back to passages you've underlined because of their meaning to you can help you cope with feelings as well as encourage you to go deeper into your real self.
Even if you don't see the relevance, your unconscious will gladly take in the healthy nourishment Campbell has to offer. I met Joe many years ago at an imagery conference at UCLA. We met in a big hall outside the workshops. Many of the speakers and workshops were good, but at that moment I was fleeing a bad presentation.
Joe also was in flight from a presentation he couldn't bear as well. For a short time we were both escapees seeking peace. We sat on a step at the bottom of the staircase and talked for well over an hour.
The energy, honesty, humanity and richness of the man came through so well I can feel him today.
His many books came later. His influence on the creation of Star Wars came later yet.
But give yourself a gift and a boost into healing by reading his first book, the book he wrote when he was a young man starting his own journey. Enjoy. Campbell's book is a nourishing treat for getting through this month (and any month) well.
As you enrich yourself and cope with feelings in a productive way you may discover how you already are the heroine of your life.
Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery. All appointments are virtual. For a free telephone consultation e-mail her at