Recovery and Behind the Scenes Bravery
In the past when I envisioned recovery, I imagined scenes in the background of eating disorder treatment center advertisements: a strong woman standing on a mountain top with her arms open wide, friends holding hands as they run through a field of daisies, a family laughing o a couch with an inspirational quote handing in the background. If that’s what recovery is like, please sign me up. Who doesn’t want that life?
In reality, those images might be better described as the aftermath of recovery, the moments made possible by recovery. But what if recovery was defined by the action steps that create it? Those behind the moments of bravery are often the antithesis of picturesque.
Recovery behind the scenes is:
– Following your meal plan even when you feel like your stomach might explode because your digestive system hasn’t functioned properly in years.
It will heal, I promise.
– Spending your summer doing challenging emotional work in treatment while your family vacations at the beach.
You’ll eventually be healthy enough to join them, and no one will appreciate
the beauty of the waves as much as you.
– Throwing away your favorite weight loss magazines and reading something that inspires you to pursue your true values instead.
Nothing inspires confidence like the knowledge that at you’re living authentically.
– Practicing deep breathing exercises to cope with the panic you feel after getting rid of your scale.
Your incredible worth is a constant that a mere number can neither increase
– Telling your primary care physician the truth about your eating disorder history when leaving out those details would be so much easier.
Your honestly empowers your doctor to take the best possible care of you.
– Accepting a challenge to eat dessert for the first time in years, even if you sob through every last bite.
Someday you’ll laugh through every last bite as you focus on the hilarious
conversation you’re having with friends.
– Facing the reality that purging has wrecked your teeth and accepting this reality without judgment while the dentist sticks multiple needles into
Be proud of yourself for getting the help you need even when it hurts like
– Describing painful moments of past traumas in the presence of trustworthy professionals who are helping you heal.
The way your resiliency shines in those moments of bravery is truly beautiful.
– Writing an encouraging letter to yourself during a moment of intense anxiety
instead of bingeing.
You have an amazing ability to be your own best advocate.
– Resigning from your dream job because it involves crisis intervention that you aren’t emotionally prepared to do yet.
It’s okay to take time off; you’re writing a chapter of your story that will be
a powerful inspiration to others.
– Turning down a “perfect opportunity” to binge and purge without getting caught even though you feel in a twisted way like you’re betraying an old friend.
In reality, you’re one step closer towards defeating your worst enemy.
– Deciding not to go home for holidays because you haven’t learned how to maintain recovery in such a challenging environment.
You’ll eventually be able to (set) boundaries and remain healthy in the midst
– Choosing not to purge after a binge and breathing through the physical and emotional discomfort.
It will pass.
– Daring to believe that this experience in treatment/therapy can be different
than the one(s) before.
You’ve learned something valuable from every lapse/relapse that can give you
Those picturesque post-recovery moments captured in advertisements really do exist. If today is one of those magical days for you, breathe in that fresh mountain air, laugh boldly as you run through those flowers, and delight in the comforting love of your family. You fought hard for these moments; celebrate your bravery.
But if today is the kind of day when you’re sobbing through every last bite of that dessert, I hope you can celebrate the unconventional beauty in such raw moments of pain and courage. These are the moments that recovery is made of; you are going to make it.
By Kimberly Vogel, M.S.
Reprinted with permission from www.eatingdisordersrecoverytoday.com, 2013
Dr. Gnap website editor eatingdisordersrecoverytoday.com. Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.