Why does recovery from an eating disorder seem to take so long?

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Q & A: Why does recovery from an eating disorder seem to take so long?

Q: Why does recovery from an eating disorder seem to take so long?

A: Many variables impact the course of treatment and the length of time it takes to recover from an eating disorder: how long someone has suffered from the illness, the severity of the symptoms, as well as any other illnesses or issues that might co-exist.

Also eating disorders are multi-faceted illnesses, which can make treatment a complex and sometimes prolonged process. Medical, nutritional, familial, and emotional/psychological issues all need to be addressed, as an eating disorder can cause significant disruption and damage to any or all of these areas. In addition, each of these areas affects the others, which can also influence the length of time it takes to get better.

What’s more, recovery isn’t always linear. A person can be making progress in one area, while having trouble, or even going backwards, in another.

Since eating disorders are, in part, psychological illnesses, some of the most fundamental changes necessary involve a person’s self-concept, self-esteem, and view of his or her place in the world. In order to recover, he or she must discover the ways this perception is inaccurate, and then develop and live by more accurate ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. This is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.

I often tell people that the recovery process is analogous to spending decades believing the world is flat, then suddenly having to re-learn what’s actually true: that the earth is round. This is an enormous change, and a very challenging project. The good news is that it’s doable.

Recovery is also is like building the Egyptian pyramids. The job is to keep plugging away one brick at a time, until you end up with a strong and beautiful structure—You.

by Johanna Marie McShane
©2011 Gürze Books

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