Imagine being stripped of anything that makes you feel calm and relaxed. Does that sound scary? Anxiety-provoking? Well, essentially this is one of the core reasons why recovery is not linear. Your Eating Disorder behaviors have developed as a form of coping with whatever underlying issues you were experiencing. Maybe that’s Obsessive-Compulsive tendencies, or Depression or Anxiety. Your Eating Disorder has the ability to calm those other undesirable feelings or experiences because your Eating Disorder has become a coping skill.
In recovery, you work on lessening your Eating Disorder behaviors while learning new coping skills that are more helpful. At some point, you had turned to your Eating Disorder to cope and at that time, that felt like the most rewarding thing to do which is why you did it. Unfortunately, your Eating Disorder then develops into a source for all of those underlying things you were trying to get relief from in the first place.
Now, in recovery, you start to take away the negative coping skill that seemed to help you for so long; the Eating Disorder. This is not easy. Taking it away will increase anxiety, OCD thoughts and other negative experiences. Replacing your old, comfortable coping skills (your Eating Disorder) with new coping skills is difficult. This is because it is different than what you’ve been doing, and it’s not so easy to always want to work on getting better. So, there you are, left to deal with the underlying issues and without your Eating Disorder to come to the rescue. This is extremely difficult!
Because of how hard this is, we can’t expect to see continuous improvement from the Eating Disorder. There are times you will resort back to old behaviors and that’s ok. Talk to your therapist about it and you can work together to understand what happened as well as brainstorm ways that may help to avoid it happening in the future. Recovery requires you to learn about your new, Eating-Disorderless self, and we have to hit pitfalls sometimes to learn the best lessons.
Sometimes it’s habit that causes us to slip back into old behaviors. And that’s ok and expected. Don’t feel disappointed in yourself or think that you’re a failure, or be too ashamed to talk to your therapist about it. Your therapist knows that this is expected and will not shun you nor be disappointed in you.
There are tons of reasons why we can’t expect that recovery is linear. While there are lots of varying reasons for this, one thing we can know to be 100% true for everyone is that recovery will not be linear. Everyone has their good days and their bad days. Everyone has days where fighting their Eating Disorder seems to just feel impossible, but don’t let that make you forget the days where it was easier or make you falsely belief that it won’t be easier again. It’s just a rough day, rough week or maybe longer. The most important things to do are to let go of expectations of what you think recovery should look like, and to be honest with yourself and with your therapist. It’s ok that you’re struggling, but things will once again get better. Be fair and be kind to yourself and allow yourself to struggle without judgment.
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it helpful! Please share with anyone else who you think could benefit from it. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for future posts, please leave a comment or message me privately.
I wish you kindness to yourself on your journey to finding your State of Balance!
Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder