Recovery from any kind of eating disorder (ED) is usually complicated and painful. Whether a sufferer is dealing with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge-Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, or some kind of unspecified ED combination, the healing journey is bound to be challenging. Knowing that from the start means you are prepared, but it can also be overwhelming. Here are some of the gifts that make eating disorder recovery worthwhile
Everyone’s journey is different, but you can definitely expect ups and downs. You’ll take encouraging steps forward and then take discouraging steps back. If you’re at the beginning of your recovery, you might wonder if this nonlinear progress is actually worth all the work you’re going to have to do. The short answer is that yes, it is.
Nobody ever said that recovering from an eating disorder was easy – but the really important things in life never are. With time and patience, you’ll reap physical, mental and spiritual benefits as you get further in your treatment and healing. Below, learn more about some of the biggest gifts of ED recovery that members of our community have experienced.
As you put down active ED behaviours and are more mindful of your body, you’ll start to see improvements in your physical health. Your hormones, neurochemicals, electrolytes, nutrients and sleep patterns may all start to be rebalanced.
With this renewed equilibrium, you may find that you’ll have more mental clarity and energy. Focusing on work, school and other activities will often become easier. You’ll bounce back from illness, injury and even emotional upsets far more easily. In short, the physical gifts of recovery lay an important foundation for mental and spiritual benefits.
In addition to improved mental clarity, you’ll have more resources available to deal with emotional issues. You won’t be devoting all your time to thinking about how to binge, purge, restrict or act on your eating disorder in any other way. This opens up a lot of space in your head, for growth and healing.
Past traumas and hurts can be addressed, and you can work on developing or repairing relationships. You might find that you can forgive someone who has hurt you, or ask for forgiveness from someone you have hurt. New interests, hobbies and social interactions could present themselves to you. They’ll all add pleasure to your life.
With a clearer headspace, you might well find that you feel more connected to a higher power too. This could be the universe, a specific religion, or just the greater good. The point is, you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty in life more. A lot of people also say that they feel a much greater sense of life purpose when they enter recovery. You’ll see how much more there is in the world, beyond an active eating disorder.
Above all, be kind to yourself
If you’ve struggled with any kind of eating disorder, for any length of time, you’ve probably been extremely hard on yourself. Self-compassion is among the biggest lessons that you can learn in ED recovery – and among the biggest gifts, you can receive.
If you make a mistake, go easy and try to forgive yourself. Then accept responsibility and keep going, treating yourself as gently as you can. The physical, mental and spiritual aspects of ED recovery are all interlinked. That’s true of both the challenges and the gifts. So if you struggle with an old emotional scar one day, you might not feel as spiritually connected as you think you should.
The bottom line? You need to be patient with yourself. Accept that you’ll go through highs and lows as you work to stop acting out on your ED. Everyone does, and you are only human. The point is, you’re showing up for yourself and doing your best. And, in the end, your commitment will always be rewarded with the gifts of recovery.