I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Eating disorder recovery is confusing as all hell. And that's mostly because no one ever talks about it. I think we're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, afraid that we're somehow doing it all wrong, that no one's thought to make a blueprint to, well, stop that nonsense before it starts.
And for people who are recovering from constantly comparing ourselves to others, it's hard not to have a sense of what we're supposed to do and where we're supposed to be.
While I certainly don't have the key to all answers related to eating disorder recovery, I do have some reminders for you to keep in mind as you journey through this. And if you have to print out this article and hang it on your mirror next to your affirmations, I wouldn't blame you.
1. Eating Disorder Recovery Isn't Easy
It isn't. I wish it was, but it isn't. It's a lot of hard work!
Between shuffling yourself off to appointments with medical and mental health professionals (if that's your jam), ignoring the scale that your mom refuses to take out of the bathroom, and constantly reminding your best friend that no, you don't want to hear about her diet, eating disorder recovery means constantly putting in work.
2. It's Hard Work That's Worth It
Have you ever seen those memes floating around Tumblr that say "Your Worst Day in Recovery Is Better Than Your Best Day with an Eating Disorder?"
3. You Will Have Bad Days in Recovery
There will be days when you're not even sure you know what recovery is, let alone if you're achieving it.
You might have a terrible body image day. You might fall back on old habits to get you through a tough time. You might even all-out relapse. But that's part of the process.
4. Repairing Your Relationship with Food Takes Time
It might take years before you can hold a cupcake in your hand and not nearly have a panic attack.
But think back to a time in your life when your relationship with food felt healthy -- when you ate intuitively and found both pleasure and satisfaction in food. You may have to think way back, but I promise that a time in your life where this was true exists.
You can get back to that place, maybe, someday. But right now, focus on today. And forgive yourself when it feels hopeless.
5. Let Your Goal Be Body Acceptance
We fight really hard to achieve body love, but that's a lot harder than body acceptance.
Don't pressure yourself to love your body unconditionally; it's possible that that will come in time. Instead, focus on shifting your negative thoughts to neutral ones: Your body exists. It carries you around. It is neither good nor bad. It is a body.
Make friends with your body first. Then we can tackle the whole "love" thing.
6. Your Eating Disorder Is the Worst
We all have those days when we remember our eating disorder fondly, like an old flame or something. But when you feel like it might be appealing to run back to its comforts, remember how much it takes away from you. Remember that it's never given you anything. Remember that it manipulates you and makes you feel awful. Remember that it sucks and that you deserve better.
Also like an old flame.
7. You're Doing It
Think about it: Did you ever even think you'd get this far? In the depths of your eating disorder, did you ever think for a second that you'd be able to live without it? And yet, here you are. Surviving. Working on thriving. That's so powerful!
What you're doing right now -- whatever it is, even if you're having a bad day (see #3) -- is recovery. You are actively recovering right this second. And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
But right now, focus on getting through today.
You've got this.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
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