One of our former facilitators, Carol, produced this response to the b-eat Recovery Tool which was published in 2008. It was a booklet for adults based on a similar one for young people and aimed to guide them through the stages towards recovery. Carol’s response is a personal one, but remains relevant today. You could use it alongside a notebook or diary to record your own thoughts along the way, as every person has a different journey.
“If only this had been there for me all those years ago! It’s friendly, open, honest, practical,reassuring…and presents recovery in a way that makes you feel you can’t fail…..you can “go round again” if you need to, until you are whole again. I have made some comments on each theme, and added some memories from my own recovery. I hope you you find this helpful.”
The main message- it won’t be easy, and there is no quick fix, but you don’t have to do it on your own……it is vitally important to understand this, and that it may take a year, or several years to recover, BUT it will be worth it.
Think about how awful life has become, and what you would like to change. think about the damage you have done to your body, and how you can fix it.
Know that you’re not alone, and will have support in your recovery.
Know that only YOU can do this, but you don’t have to do it on your own.
Don’t feel ashamed of your illness…..it’s just that you’ve found a way of coping with difficult feelings, and you can learn new, healthier ways to deal with them.
Focus on what you want to gain from recovery.
Look forward….to things you’ll enjoy more when you are recovered, your dreams and ambitions….a fuller life that doesn’t revolve around your eating disorder.
Don’t panic – make small changes- one step at a time, until you feel comfortable enough to do more.
If it all gets too much, stay as you are for a while, consolidate what you have achieved, feel good about how far you have come, until you’re ready to move on.
Eating diaries- seem a chore, but can really help you to feel in control, and remind you how well you’re doing. they can keep you focussed and on track.
The same goes for exercise diaries.
Remind yourself frequently of what you need to do…..and get reassurance; talk to people, cry when you need to, and, above all, be kind to yourself.
To lessen the likelihood of a binge, I found that eating little and often helped. Not letting myself get too hungry was helpful. My body felt it was getting something, without becoming too demanding.
Keep focussed on the rest of your life……not the eating problems….things you do and enjoy, that make you feel good, and the people who care about you.
Make shopping for new clothes a positive step, something to celebrate…..take a friend to help, give your old clothes to a charity, to feel even better!
Humour….can really help to lighten your load….
Let yourself laugh!
If it all comes back to knock you off your feet again, ride it out…..you’ll come back to where you are now, you’ll be fine, and able to carry on.
Whatever you do, DON’T beat yourself up – there is no perfect way to recovery.
In fact, the tougher it is, the more complete it will be, as you will have worked through the “deepest and darkest” to get there!
“Acting as if” can sometimes help you through the “looking OK but not feeling OK” stage, but always be true to yourself……
It’s okay to cry, to grieve, as you get used to the new you, and say goodbye to the part you’ve left behind.
Focus on the things you enjoy, your dreams and ambitions…a fuller life that doesn’t revolve around your eating disorder.
Keep the balance….if you find yourself wanting to respond in the old destructive ways to emotional difficulties, remember, you have found better ways of dealing with things. change things that are not working for you….trust your intuition, and your confidence will grow.
Build up a “toolbox” of things that help you cope…at first you’ll be scrabbling around trying to find the right tool, but after a while, the right tool will be there in your hand when you need it.
And finally, a few short notes I have kept from my recovery notes…..
Climbing a mountain
I’m standing at the bottom of a huge mountain…..I walk round and round it, afraid to look up, not knowing where the best place is to start climbing….
I must climb this one way I’ve climbed many mountains before, at a slow steady pace…..MY pace…one step at a time, breathing easily, noticing the flowers at my feet….pausing to enjoy the view as I climb higher and higher….until the world begins to open out before me….above my head, birds flying free in an endless sky….the warmth of the sunshine, the cooling breeze…until finally, with one last step, I am on top, still standing…seeing how far I’ve come….and with the best feeling in the world!
Thanks to a therapist
Written when I was hyperactive with anorexia, and my poor therapist was trying to slow me down, make me stop and think.
I TALK when I should listen……
I RUN when I should walk…..
I WORK when I should rest…..
I DO when I should think……
…but bit by bit I’m learning….
Your words are sinking in……..
A quote from one of our group members,
“I may look better now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle sometimes. I will keep on fighting.”
And a quote from Dr Jane Morris, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Eden Unit, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen,
“I certainly do nurture the spirit of hope in my work, but with practice, healthy balance can become instinctive – like riding a bike.”