My battle with my eating disorder may never end. Yes, I eat regularly and healthy now. I maintain a healthy workout and I protect my body. Getting here was not easy at all. It required an unbelievable amount of inner strength and dedication, and I know my journey to recovery is not over yet. No matter where I am in life, even in this current state, I can’t shake what happened to me before. It’s traumatic. Your body goes through things it shouldn’t. I don’t know if you can truly fully recover from your eating disorder, but here is my journey to the healthier state I’m at now.
Acknowledge Your Disorder – the first step to recovery is admitting and acknowledging you have a problem. I’ve heard numerous examples of people who believed there was nothing wrong with them and needed an intervention or a wake-up call by someone close in order to see how bad their state really is. Getting yourself to admit your problem is never easy, I know, I’ve been there. This also for anyone who doesn’t have an eating disorder but knows someone who does. Don’t turn the other cheek. Be aware of the signs. Don’t rationalize it. Discuss it with them openly and gently, help them.
Get Help – when you are able to admit your problem, get help. It’s important to note: don’t try to “fix” it by yourself. For me, help from a psychotherapist helped a lot, and I highly recommend it. NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association, recommends the use of professional help as well. According to NEDA, a psychotherapist can “assist in discovering the function of their eating disorder so they can understand why it is in their life and how it no longer serves them,” and I can vouch for that. The NEDA adds that it is important that someone under the age of 18 should receive help from a qualified eating disorder specialist.
Prepare for a change – be ready to change, to break your old patterns. Don’t be stressed if you still don’t know how to do that, that’s completely normal. Find effective ways to deal with your eating disorder and whatever comes with it, such as negative thoughts or emotions. Define boundaries. Work with whatever professional help you’re getting to establish a plan. Share that with your family and close ones, and have it be true to your wishes, wants and abilities. There is nothing wrong with taking it slow, as long as you are making progress, of course. Make a list of people you can call in time of crisis and panic, put them on speed dial. Make sure that those are people that are truly healthy for you and have your best interest at heart.
Act to achieve this change – when you feel ready, when you feel like your foundation is strong enough, act. Confront your eating disorder head-on. Trust the process you are going through, trust your support system, whether professional or personal. Embrace the change and the new patterns and behaviors it brings. Don’t stress yourself too much, and if you start feeling stressed, find ways to navigate it to more healthy outlets. Remove all the things that can trigger you: diet foods, scales, and again, stress.
Maintain the change – it takes a while. According to the NEDA approximately six months or more, to truly embrace the change. It doesn’t happen immediately. Don’t expect it to. Take as long as you need. When you feel ready, expose yourself with great caution (not all at once), to potential triggers in order to prevent relapse. Find new interests, explore them. Practice the new behaviors and ways of thinking you learned. It’s important to note, don’t cut all the support systems you built just because you think it’s over. It’s never really over, trust me. Make sure you have someone to talk to. Someone you can speak honestly without being afraid of judgment.
If your process is different than mine, it’s okay. There is no reason to stress over it. I just want you to live a meaningful, healthy and overall better life. ED is horrible. It’s a never-ending battle. But we keep on fighting.
If you’re battling an eating disorder and want to make a change, reach out:
The National Eating Disorder Association
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) runs a free, confidential hotline available Monday–Thursday, 9:00 am EST – 9:00 pm EST and Friday, 9:00 am EST– 5:00 pm EST. Refer to their website for a list of holidays when the hotline is not available. NEDA also provides instant messaging and texting options.
- Call 1-800-931-2237
- Text “NEDA” to 741-741
The National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a helpline that can provide information and support regarding a variety of mental health concerns, including eating disorders. The helpline is available Monday–Friday, 10:00 am EST – 6:00 pm EST.
- Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- Text “NAMI” to 741-741
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. While not a national eating disorder 24-hour hotline, SAMHSA can provide information and guidance related to seeking treatment for any mental health or substance use disorder as well as co-occurring disorders.
- Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)