Eating Disorder Therapist in Rockville, Maryland. Serving Montgomery County, Maryland. Specializing in the treatment of anorexia, binge eating, orthorexia, bulimia, compulsive exercise.
Sometimes people who are struggling with eating disorders have the idea that they will wait until their feel “ready” to fully commit to recovery. Or that there will be a moment of magical clarity, where suddenly they are highly motivated to recover and the process feels easier.
Some people do hit a point of high motivation in terms of recovery, however the problem is that if everyone waited until they felt “ready” to recover-many would die waiting.
In general, people may avoid taking risks in life because they think that they need to wait until they feel “ready” or confident enough to do so. However, the paradox of this is that you will only begin to feel less afraid and gain confidence by gradually exposing yourself to what you are afraid of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., exemplified this in her book entitled "Feel The Fear... And Do it Anyway" when she stated:
"I had grown up waiting for the fear to go away before I took any chances. When I am no longer afraid... then! For most of my life I had played the when/then game and it never worked... Fear of particular situations dissolved when I finally confronted them. The doing it comes before the fear goes away."
This is why it's so important to "feel afraid," and take action anyway-that is alignment with your true values.
Start Before You “Feel Ready”
You don’t need to feel “ready” in order to recover from an eating disorder. How do I know this? I’ve had clients (both teens and adults) who were pretty much forced into therapy by parents, spouses, or other concerned individuals in their life-who are now in strong recovery or recovered.
It makes perfect sense that there may be part of you which desperately wants to cling onto the eating disorder. It’s likely that the eating disorder is serving some functions in your life right now. Also, often for people who are struggling, their eating disorder feels like a “safe” and “comfortable,” place to stay-even when it’s evident to everyone around them that it’s negatively impacting their life.
Willingness vs. Willfulness
In dialectical behavioral therapy, they talk about the concept of willingness vs. willfulness. I don’t need a client to feel “ready” to recover, there just has to be some element of willingness. Even if the willingness simply comes from someone else forcing them into therapy. Or it's the willingness to take their best shot at recovery, because living with the eating disorder feels exhausting.
This is my favorite description of the concept:
“Life is a lot like being a batter in front of a pitching machine. So what happens when you're in front of a pitching machine? There's a machine and it's throwing balls at you. And you're standing at one end and the machine is at the other and the balls start coming. You've got a bat.
Now, if the balls coming at you and the pitching machine is throwing them, what are your options? Well, you could either take your bat, pull it back, try to hit the ball. Or, you could throw a tantrum. You could get really upset. You could say, 'It's coming too fast. I don't like it. I'm not doing it. I'm not hitting that ball anymore. Stop.'
You think the balls would stop coming if you did that? No. Life is like that. You can get as upset as you want about life but actually life just keeps coming - one moment right after the next.
What are your options? You can stand there, do nothing, let the ball go by. Or, you could stand in front of the ball and just get hit by it. Or, you could try to hit the ball. Willingness is trying to hit the ball.”
You’re eating disorder is essentially keeping you in a cage. I’m asking you to commit to being “willing” to do whatever it takes to step outside of the cage (even if right now you can only commit to a short period of time).
You can always decide to step back into the cage, if you find that you don’t enjoy your life in recovery-but I haven’t met anyone who is recovered who wants to go back to the eating disorder.
What Are You Willing to Commit To?
I know that surrendering is scary, and it’s also a sign of true courage.
I’d encourage you to ask yourself, if I truly embrace “willingness” and “surrendering” to the recovery process, what steps could I take on a daily or weekly basis?
Ask your treatment team to help hold you accountable. If you don’t have a team, it’s so important to reach out for help and support.
Please don’t wait until you feel “ready” or “deserving” of treatment. You deserve a meaningful and joyful life. One that you cannot fully have if you continue to stay trapped in your eating disorder.
Take the first step. It will be worth it.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Germantown, and Washington D.C. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com
Check out Jennifer's on-demand eating disorder trainings here!
I'm an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, MD.