“Nobody said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.”
I lived by this quote during my recovery. Recovery certainly isn’t an easy process, it’s a battle. I am human, and some days are harder than others. But the end result is definitely worth it, and remembering that helps to give me strength to get over the obstacles.
Recovery is not perfect. It is not a straight, smooth road. The road is bumpy, and it can be full of turns. There will be bad days. But a bad day does not mean a relapse.
Although I am recovered, some days can still be a struggle, and sometimes I definitely feel like I need a little extra support. I am mainly a happy person, but those bad days can trigger old urges. And in my Eating Disorder mind, I have a tendency to over-think and over-analyze everything. My thought process would turn into a slippery slope:
Why do I feel bad? I feel like a failure for feeling this way. What reason is there for it? What gives me the right to feel even slightly depressed when there are others who have it way worse than I? Why do I feel this way at all? There must be some underlying issue. I need to figure out what it is or I will never fully deal with the actual problem and it will always be there, swept under the rug.
I never could accept that I could just be having a bad day. Everything had to have a reason, and I would find ways to make my feelings invalid. That made it worse, because I would feel like a failure for having those emotions in the first place. Why couldn’t I just make myself happy?
But in truth, it didn’t matter that it seemed my reasons for being upset weren’t justified. I felt them, those feelings were real and valid.
In my mind, I thought that my body image was the root of all my problems, and that if I looked a certain way, it would solve all my issues and make me happy. So my thought process would turn to body image:
Is my problem really that I just want to have a good body image? What does that even mean? Why does it matter that much? What or whom is it benefiting if I look like a fitness model or not? Who will that affect, and will it really make me happy? Why should it matter if I am perfectly healthy? Why should it matter at all? Does it really make a difference if I have a higher body fat percentage than someone else? What does that number mean to me, and why? Are people going to love me less if that number is higher? If they are, then why are they in my life to begin with, and why does their opinion matter? What do I gain from other people’s acceptance of me? Do I gain more confidence, or self-acceptance? Can I gain that confidence elsewhere, or on my own? Do I really need acceptance from others in order to gain acceptance for myself? Or is it all in my head?
In the end, it is all up to me. The people in my life are not going to love me any less because my body fat percentage is higher. I am much more than my weight, or BMI, or body fat percentage. If others already love me for who I am, then it’s up to me to find the confidence within myself. I have to love me for me too. Then everything starts to fall into place.
Some days will just be bad days, and it’s important to remember that bad days are okay. What you are feeling is okay, emotions are a part of life. Without sadness and frustration we would never fully appreciate compassion and happiness. The bad days help us to be more grateful for the good days.
A lot of us have this want to be in control, to figure everything out on our own. But some days you just need a little extra help. It is okay to ask for help. It doesn’t mean that you have failed, or that you are a lesser person. It just means that you are human.
It is up to us to decide what to do with those emotions. We can let them control our actions, or we can reach out and ask for help, or learn to cope with them. There are effective ways to cope with stress and sadness. Here are some of the resources/coping skills I have found to be effective for me:
Recovery Warriors – I love this website. There are tons of great blog posts from various contributors, and a place where you can find treatment near your area. I love listening to the podcasts and I find them very helpful. They also have a few Spotify playlists that are really great. I love their Warrior playlist. Being a musical person, I find that music can really help me get into the right mindset.
Rise Up App – This app is part of Recovery Warriors, and it is a helpful recovery homework app where you can check in, and log your meals and feelings. It will suggest various coping skills and advise, and different journal activities that may help with recovery. It is free, and available on both Apple and Android devices.
Coloring – It might sound silly, but coloring actually has therapeutic benefits. I find it helps calm my mind and relieve anxiety, because I am focusing my mind on what I’m doing rather than what’s stressing me out. It’s kind of like a form of meditation. My husband recently bought me this Cats and Kittens coloring book, and it’s perfect for me. There is a lot of great adult coloring books out in the market now. There’s also Print Manadala, where you can print free Mandalas to color.
Exercise – Some form of exercise is great for releasing endorphins and helping your energy level. I find that going for a nice, long walk or a hike in nature can be very stress-releaving. Even running makes me feel better…although I might hate it while I’m doing it, during my run I am not focused on anything but giving myself an inner pep talk, “Keep going! You got this! Just a little further! You’re almost done!” And I always feel great afterwards (a lot of times I’m just proud that I ran at all!).
Journaling – Journaling is a great tool and I find it to be extremely helpful in tapping into emotions I may have been hiding from myself and getting more in touch with myself. It can also be a good outlet, sometimes just writing down my feelings and frustrations serves as a way to “get them out.”
WANT – Women Against Negative Talk. From their website: “Women Against Negative Talk – or WANT – aims to give women tools, resources, insight, and inspiration to shift their negative self-talk patterns and move forward into an empowered, self-actualized life that’s all their own.” This site is pretty cool with a great positive community and some really great blog posts and podcasts.
99 Coping Skills – Exactly what it is. If you’re at a loss and need an idea of something to do, this site lists 99 coping skills that you can use.
Find out what works for you, and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help on days when you need it. Stay strong!