Written by: Marissa
Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own. This article is not meant to be an alternative to professional therapy or treatment. If you are relapsing into an eating disorder, seek appropriate medical and professional help immediately.
Recovering from an eating disorder is not linear. Each recovery process differs based on the individual’s healing journey. Depending on the severity of the disorder, recovery can take weeks, months or several years. The process requires a large amount of inner strength, professional help, and personal reflection. Like any difficult life event, we are destined to encounter unexpected obstacles. It is essential to remember our greatest obstacles can forge greater personal lessons. Below, I have listed a handful of gentle reminders for coping with a relapse. Remember: In the event of an unexpected relapse, you can always find strength residing in your soul.
Relapsing does not make you a failure:
Labeling yourself a “failure” is doing a disservice to your progress. As previously stated, each recovery process varies in length. Relapsing is a normal occurrence during recovery. Choose to exude kindness towards yourself, rather than berating yourself for a slip. A helpful mantra to remember states, “Even though I just relapsed, I recognize and choose to learn from it for my health journey.” Look at relapsing as a step towards your healing goal.
Do not be afraid of embracing self care:
Recently, self care has become a common–and controversial–topic of conversation. During recovery, self care is a comforting daily practice. The body is not undergoing just a physical healing, but experiencing a transformative spiritual and mental change. A relapse is cause for additional self care. Create an emergency self care routine when sensing a slip. This may include digging in to a box of your favorite comfort objects (blankets, stress balls, essential oils), or buying an emergency gift card to treat yourself to a favorite latte. Whatever sparks feelings of worthiness in you should be included in your self care routine.
Use mindfulness when expressing your feelings:
Communication is necessary during trying events. Mindful communication involves expressing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions in an appropriate manner. One aspect of mindful communication includes the projection of verbal expression. Begin with the phrase “I am” when touching on inner feelings. Having a close circle of trusting individuals to confide in can also ease difficult emotions. During a relapse, use your mindful communication tools with someone in your circle. I recommend doing this in person to feel an emotional connection. Start with explaining why you are hurting. People cannot relate to pain until they are aware of the source. Use the phrases, “I am hurting because… ” and “This is how is makes me feel….” and list your reasons. A loved one is always willing to listen. One of the greatest human attributes is our ability to care for, comfort, and nurture loved ones. Feelings should never be categorized as burdens.
Never stop reminding yourself – you are always enough:
Read the above line again, and again, and again – repeat as needed.