An Open Letter to Anyone With an Eating Disorder
You are more than your eating disorder.
You are more than your thoughts and feelings and symptoms.
You can heal from this.
But if you're feeling too tired to try changing your thought patterns and learned behaviors, I. Get. It.
I get it if you're feeling too tired to try. Let's face it, this National Eating Disorder Awareness Week came at us near year three of the COVID-19 global pandemic and while Russia invaded Ukraine (Thursday, February 24, 2022). Depending on where you live, there are also local happenings that also don't stop for anyone's recovery.
All of these external stressors or dangers can make recovery stigma rear its ugly head and scream that what's required for recovery is a luxury or privilege or pointless pursuit or self-centered. (Yes, I hear these self-stigmatizing messages, too).
So if you're not feeling motivated or inspired or even capable of change, I understand. It can be incredibly challenging to continue living in recovery mode while external events are negatively impacting global and personal mental health.
Maybe the pandemic brought out disordered eating thoughts and behaviors you haven't seen in years, or even decades. Maybe the pandemic changed your financial situation, living situation, relationship situation, parenting schedule, substance use, and more, and guess what? All of these life changes and stressors and periods of uncertainty can have an effect on a person's eating patterns and recovery commitment. Maybe right now you're looking at the world and can't find a reason to even try to get better.
Find a reason to keep going anyway
Here's the beautiful part about life: something that may ordinarily seem insignificant can suddenly become a deeply appreciated lifeline. A flower blooming. Rain falling. Your cat beside you. The flower reminds us of the ebbs and flows for no plant is always in bloom. Rain falling reminds us how to let go and start fresh. Your cat needs you to feed them, love them, be alive and well enough to uphold that responsibility.
Things that have helped me keep going in my recovery include:
Caring for pets
Caring for houseplants
Eating dinner with friends
Eating dinner as a family (while married)
You can become the person you want to be
I promise you it's true when people say that anything is possible. Recovery is possible, but it doesn't happen overnight or in a week or even a month. And it doesn't always stick. Sometimes, it feels like starting over again or in the middle or picking up where you last left off. The best way to keep going is to never stop.
Even if you are going at a slower pace than before.
Even if you feel as though you're making no progress.
Even if you feel you're wasting your time.
Pace does not matter right now. Any progress is immense progress. Every step sets into motion a series of other steps. All that really matters is the direction you're moving in.
The hard truth is that it takes real work to change. It takes more than a single therapy session or a hope or wish or undefined goal. It takes more than wanting to change. It takes ongoing effort, faith or trust in the process, and resources.
It begins by showing up. It happens by picking a path of healing and staying until one of two things occurs: You either veer off after realizing it's not the best path for you or you find increasing levels of inner peace and comfort and calm.
It's the last day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2022 and I want you to know that my support for you doesn't end today. While I can't manage to write a blog post a day with the other writing work I have scheduled, you can always find my words in Ana, Mia & Me: An Eating Disorder Recovery Memoir available on Amazon and in articles about eating disorders on Everyday Health, Verywell Health and here on this blog! Instagram @michellepugle Facebook @ Michelle Pugle, Mental Health Writer.