The problem with success in ED recovery

In general, I love goals. I love challenges. I love the whole process from planning for them and setting them to  hopefully sticking to them and achieving them. I love the kick I get from pushing myself in a certain way. Success with goals makes me feel good.

However, I’m realising there are good goals and not-so-good goals.

Good goals have been saving for a holiday, remembering friend’s birthdays, training for a marathon, learning to knit and the like. Not-so-good goals include restriction, weight loss, excessive exercise etc.

Good goals make you happy and help you grow as a person. A focus on the not-so-good goals resulted in, for me,  a chronic eating disorder.

When it comes to eating disorder recovery, that’s when it gets a bit tricky. Suddenly I have to flip all my not-so-good goals into good goals. Restriction becomes structured eating, weight loss becomes weight gain/maintenance, excessive exercise becomes moderate exercise with limits. At the same time I have to flip my mindset into believing that achieving these new goals equals success. The success now isn’t training for a faster time, it’s learning to skip a session when tired. The success isn’t weight loss, it’s weight stability. The success isn’t skipping a meal, it’s adding carbohydrates to lunch.

The problem is, these successes don’t feel like successes. I’m putting in as much effort and they’re the cause of plenty of stress, which normally would be worth it for the end achievement, but it just doesn’t feel like that right now. I know the bigger picture is health, recovery etc. but day-to-day they feel like failures. Part of me knows they’re good things to be working on, but an equal (if not bigger) part of me is screaming that I’m a failure for not doing enough exercise, eating too much etc.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense! I can’t quite write it how my head sees it. Hoping some of you will understand! How can I convince myself that going against everything ED made me believe is actually success?

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “The problem with success in ED recovery

  1. argh – it is so hard sometimes isn’t it? I’m a bit head-wrecked today because I thought I’d been doing really well, but actually my dietitian and doctors weren’t overly thrilled with me and it took me ages to even understand that they want me to make Even More Progress… I was really confused today after leaving the appointments and I restricted and distracted myself instead of sitting down to think and feel what was going on… the point I’m at now is as far as I’m able to get myself by myself so maybe I just need to trust them and hand over the control… I was thinking of it in terms of – I have a map I’ve been following but after this point I have no data, so I have to let them tell me where to go next, i.e. take the medication (I only took it for two days and then stopped (without telling them)) and continue to work on goals in terms of not restricting… (my heart sinks when I think of this) but at the same time – I’m like NOPE! I just want to lose a little bit of weight to feel secure. I did well for a where I’m at while I was away but I think in my mind I translated that to mean that I’m ok and the ED and restricting is ok so I need to go back to it… There are also a few other triggering things that I feel like I should be ‘over’ by now so maybe I just need to go back and talk things through… I’ve been busier than usual the last while and enjoying the business and socialising but maybe I need to calm. I have a feeling if I just stick to my day to day structured eating and try and talk over the ‘triggering’ things (which i wish I was over but obviously am not) then I will be ok. Does any of this resonate with you? You’re totally not alone buddy xxx its such a head melt xxx Em

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    1. Handing over control sounds like the scariest but possibly most fantastic thing you’ve ever suggested doing for yourself! As for ‘should be being over’ things – there is no set time line for human experiences and reactions, they will take you as long as they take, but it is so incredible when you do get to that point. There were things from my family and childhood that I just could not talk about, things that caused my years and years of lonely tears, things that I thought I would never ever utter, things I danced around in 2 years of (expensive) private therapy but then when I finally sorted through them with my lovely lovely lovely nurse (god I miss her) it felt amazing to suddenly have a sense of peace and control about them. Everyone’s experiences are different obviously and there are some things that are easier to come to terms with than others, but I’d like you to have hope that some day you might feel the same- I hope that for you! And yes agree about being busy- restriction is always a risk for me with this, and then I almost get scared of slowing down and stopping, but once I do I’m like ‘wow should have done this ages ago’ . Slow is good sometimes! Take care missy, be kind to yourself x

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  2. I think it takes a seriously long time to break that particular mindset. You have to realize thy there are going to be days when you struggle and to not beat yourself up for it. This has to be at your pace and work for you. I can say it’s been 28 years and there are times when skipping or not eating all together sounds like a good idea (mainly when I’m stressed). I think focusing on how much better I feel now versus how I felt back then makes a huge difference. All the damage to your soul and your body isn’t worth it. Just keep digging away at what led you to doing it in the first place. Remind yourself that you’re taking care of yourself now instead of harming yourself. Take little steps to love you now. It’ll get easier over time.

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  3. I’m new to this site, and your post is very relatable. It reminds me I’m not the only one going through things like this. I hope you continue this mindset and become the best you possible. Also quick question how did you add hash tags to your post??

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    1. Thanks! You can add tags on your phone by pressing the three little dots on the top corner, and then options, and then tags. On the computer it’s on the left hand menu under categories and tags when you go to write a new post. Some people use them really well to organise their posts, I tend to just chose the random ones in my head!

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      1. Oh that’s amazing! Thanks for letting me know!! I have seen people use them and I couldn’t figure it out!

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  4. Mindset is definitely the hardest part of the health journey, especially when you have to basically retrain your brain around “good” versus “bad.” Something that’s helped me is to think of the bigger picture. So… let’s say you gain/maintain weight, moderately exercise, etc…. how is that going to affect your health, relationships, finances, career, purpose, and self worth? Then, ask yourself the same question but with the habits of undereating and overexercising. I encourage you to write your answers down… hopefully it gives you some clarity, and something to look at when you’re feeling mentally challenged!

    BEST of luck to you, hang in there! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything! ❤

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  5. I’ve been in recovery for 5 years now and believe me it really does get easier. Of course it’s scary but think of all the things you will be able to do and achieve when you’re eating healthily. Your ego/inner chimp is telling you that you’re a failure for maintaining your weight, eating and everything else that recovery involves but once you start to feel the benefits the ego will become weaker because you will become stronger. Whenever you hear that “voice” calling you a failure turn it around and say out loud (or write it down) “I am not a failure, I am beautiful and I can do this!” The more you say it, the more you will believe it 😊

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    1. You’re so right, and I definitely am feeling the benefits of recovery now. Learning to speak back to the voice has helped, maybe I’ll start doing this out loud though too for extra emphasis! Thanks for the comment.

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