My ED nurse and my previous counsellor were big fans of pro/cons to recovery lists. They believed that there has to be something motivating enough to fight for, as if not recovery will just seem too hard to be worth it. I get their point! I fill out a pro/con quadrant every now and again to remind myself of why I bother, and it’s interesting to see how it has changed over the years since I first completed one. This is what my current one looks like:
Pros of staying the same
Less effort, nice illusion that I can eat what I want and not gain weight
Cons of staying the same
I’m miserable, the secrecy, feeling stuck, digestive problems, teeth damage, bad skin, poor sleep, waste of money, waste of time, being a poor role model, not wanting to live with boyfriend while purging, guilt, shame, embarrassment.
Pros of making a change
Better sleep, better skin, easier relationships, can move in with boy, more time to do things that I enjoy and that matter, better for my running / training, less shame, reduce teeth damage, improve digestion, money for other things, being able to eat socially without panic, being able to be near food and not lose control, be able to enjoy food, be able to get pregnant and carry a baby (this is a MASSIVE pro but I don’t like to think about it too much in case I’ve already ruined my chance, and because it’s not immediate it’s hard to focus on it)
Cons of making a change
Hard work, feeling exposed, loss of ED identity, ED no longer an excuse for not being good enough for my overly high standards (e.g. I’d be a better runner if I didn’t have an ED/ my research would be better if I had more energy) etc.
It’s quite interesting for me to see that none of my pros and cons really refer to weight anymore. When I’m in an anorexic mindset the biggest pro of ED is losing weight and the biggest con of change is gaining weight. But in bulimia, I hate it so much that the weight is not the biggest issue: plus I know that it is a very ineffective weight loss strategy so it shouldn’t even be related.
What’s easy to see though is that the reasons for changing far outweigh the reasons for staying the same, and that is what I need to call upon every time I’m having a wobble or a blip.
If you’d like to try this quadrant, or haven’t done one in a while, great ED resources can be found here: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=48