Make Small, Gradual Changes in Anorexia Recovery
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Yvonne-Anne is an anorexia survivor currently residing in the UK. While caring for her family members, Yvonne also went to university for a Health and Social Care degree and graduated in 2016. Yvonne’s passion is providing coping strategies with a mix of self-help for those suffering with an eating disorder. She is also seeking literacy representation for her book, The Kaleidoscope Influence, which has recently been published on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
I would firstly like to congratulate those who have recovered or are still recovering from an eating disorder. My journey began when I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 16. The treatment, or lack of treatment, that I received would be considered unethical compared to the treatments available today. I had no choice but to navigate recovery on my own and find alternatives that worked for me.
In this blog, I will be discussing my recovery journey, including how I dealt with some of the physical and emotional effects that can come along with it.
Trusting a Family Member or Friend
Therapy, helplines, and support are more readily available than they once were. Unfortunately, helplines and counseling were not available at the time I was suffering with anorexia. A member of my family stepped up and supported me throughout. When he recognized that I was struggling, he would stop what he was doing, and we would sit down with a cup of coffee and chat for two or three hours. Although some nights it was late and he had to work the next day, he would always listen to me whenever I needed to chat. I believe that the support he gave me helped me on my way to recovery.
Getting support from a friend or family member who has your best interest at heart is extremely impactful, and seeking professional help from an organization that specializes in eating disorders is an essential step in recovery.
Feeling bloated is an extremely uncomfortable feeling, but it’s often part of the recovery process. It’s important to nourish your body with nutrients and eat regularly. I found that wearing loose clothing and drinking plenty of water helped. I suffered with bloating for several months. I did not know that I would experience this as part of my recovery, so it was certainly a learning curve on my journey.
Studying for my degree involved working with the elderly. I found that caring and supporting someone else seemed to prevent me from overthinking my issues. I have a passion to help others and make their lives better and at times feel I have accomplished what I set out to do. While suffering with anorexia, I seemed to have an over-active mindset and a negative inner voice. Over time, I have taught myself to deal with this with strategies that include clearing my mind and dealing with life experiences one at a time. Before going to sleep at night, I like to relax and listen to music and let go of what’s happened that day. It has taken some time to achieve this, but it works for me.
Being a perfectionist is associated with anorexia. I remember the anxieties I would have about being a “failure.” To be truthful, from an early age I would say I have always been a perfectionist, but it became more severe with my illness. Over the years, I have found that expecting yourself to give 100% to everything you do is a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I don’t strive for perfection anymore and I am happy not being perfect.
Doing What’s Best for You
Everyone who has had an eating disorder has experienced it differently. Everyone’s recovery experience is also different. Recovery should be on your own terms and in your own time. Taking small steps can benefit your health and wellbeing.
While recovering, I found that avoiding negative people and places also helped me considerably. I was always very sensitive to the comments and opinions of other people, which was hard on my soul. I had to adapt and ignore nasty comments, negative people, and anything that would upset me in any way. I am happy with myself at this moment in time, but the odd incident still affects me. I have learned that removing myself from upsetting situations is what’s best for me and my recovery.
Always remember that recovery is possible and it’s easier when you structure the process in a way that is right for you! Look after yourself and believe in yourself. You are the most important person on this journey to recovery. I sincerely wish everyone in recovery the best of luck. Remember to always stay positive.