Eating Disorder Therapist in Rockville, Maryland. Serving Montgomery County, Maryland. Specializing in the treatment of anorexia, binge eating, orthorexia, bulimia, compulsive exercise.
Your recovery from an eating disorder is going strong. You’ve been making progress in terms of facing challenge foods, working diligently with your therapist and nutritionist, and are finally starting to see the amazing life that you have without active eating disorder behaviors. Then, a major stressor hits you. Perhaps your relationship just ended, you got a new job, or have an upcoming graduation.
You start to justify cutting back on meals, skipping therapy appointments, and notice that your thoughts are becoming more preoccupied with food and your body. Your eating disorder voice becomes louder, yet you are in denial that it is starting to take control again. Perhaps this regression ends in a slip of old behaviors or maybe even a full-blown relapse.
The following are three tips for rising strong following a lapse or relapse in eating disorder recovery.
1. Reach out for support from a trained professional.
You may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit that you are struggling again. However, reaching out for support when you are struggling is a sign of true strength, not weakness. If you are slipping in your recovery, it’s critical that you reach out to a therapist and/or registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. Additionally, it’s important to be honest with them about the disordered behaviors that you are currently struggling with.
Your "eating disorder voice," may tell you that you aren't "sick enough" to seek help. This is utterly false. Everyone who is struggling, deserves access to help and support.
No one should have to recover from their eating disorder alone. You deserve to have support to help you to get back on track in your recovery.
2. Remind yourself of your reasons to recover.
When things feel hopeless or “too challenging”, it can be tough to find motivation to continue to work on your recovery. Many of my clients with eating disorders struggle with “black and white thinking.” For instance, you could be telling yourself something like, “I already failed at my recovery, I may as well just give up.” If these kinds of unhelpful thoughts start to pop up, it’s crucial that you remind yourself of your reasons to recover.
For instance, one exercise that I often ask clients to do is to imagine what their life could look like 5 years from now if they stay trapped in their eating disorder vs. five years from now if they are recovered.
You deserve a full life, one that you cannot have if you continue to stay stuck in your eating disorder.
3. Practice self-compassion.
It's important to note that you are certainly not alone in experiencing a relapse or lapse in eating disorder recovery.
If you do experience this, it is important to try to practice some self-compassion. “Beating yourself up” for struggling, will only serve to make you feel even worse. You have not failed; you simply need more support. Recovery is typically not a linear process, and you may have both successes and setbacks along the way.
Additionally, it’s important to note that you are not “starting again from square one.” Just because you had a relapse, does not invalidate all of the progress that you have already made. Instead, of viewing your relapse or lapse as a “failure,” try to reframe it as an opportunity to learn from. You may just find that you emerge an even stronger person after having overcome the latest setback in your recovery.
You Deserve A Full Life
When you look back on your life at age 80, do you think that you will be fondly reminiscing about the amount of time you spent counting calories, avoiding social events, running obsessively on the treadmill, or hiding empty cartons of food in shame? Living trapped in an eating disorder is ultimately not a fulfilling life.
You didn’t choose to have an eating disorder, but you can make the choice to continue on the path towards recovery. No matter what lies your eating disorder may be telling you, your life is worth so much more than obsessing about food and your body. Imagine all of the amazing things you could accomplish if you devoted this time and energy to something positive.
It may take some time, but I believe you will find a fulfilling and passion-driven life, one where you can finally say, “I am recovered.”
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping adolescents and adults struggling with eating disorders, body image issues, anxiety, and depression. Jennifer offers eating disorder therapy to individuals in Maryland and D.C. and eating disorder recovery coaching via phone/Skype.
Eating Disorder Therapy easily accessible to people in Potomac, Bethesda, Germantown, Olney, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington D.C.
I am an eating disorder therapist in Rockville, MD, intuitive eating counselor, and body-image activist.