Hey friends! I know that eating disorder recovery can be confusing to people that have never experienced it. BUT luckily someone suggested I do a recovery Q+A, so here we are!!! I’m answering most of the questions that I received, but if you don’t see yours on here or you think of me, feel free to leave a comment or message me through my contact page. Love y’all wowowow!!
Q. When you were in your disorder, was your view of your body distorted? Like, did you see yourself as fat when in reality you were actually skinny? And is that part of an eating disorder or a separate thing that a non-eating disordered individual can experience?
A. YES, my view of my body was extremely distorted. Looking back at pictures now, I can see how sickly I looked, but in the moment, all I saw was fat. I saw fat on parts of my body that didn’t even exist. Body dysmorphia is a common part of eating disorders that most (but not all) individuals suffer from. However, there is a disorder called Body Dysmorphia Disorder. While many eating disorder individuals claim to have BDD, it is not possible (according to the DSM-5!) for the two disorders to co-occur. BDD is essentially the same thing that many eating disorder sufferers experience, but just a separate diagnosis specifically for those without eating disorders. So yes, it is possible for non-eating disordered individuals to experience distorted body image. While I can’t say that every person who has bad body image has BDD, it is definitely a possibility.
Q. What are some tips for dealing with a changing body in recovery? Specifically when you are “weight restored” but your body is still changing.
A. Girl, I still struggle with this! Weight restoring is hard, and then it’s still hard when you body continues to change and fluctuate. However, that is SO NORMAL. Weight fluctuates all the time. It happens to everyone, not just eating disorder individuals. So for me, I’m just learning to trust my body. Our bodies are SO smart, and they know what they’re doing. So when my body changes or fluctuates, I just remind myself that it is normal and I choose to trust my body, even when my eating disorder is screaming no. I also fact check with my dietitian a lot! I tell her what I’m experiencing and she always tells me that it’s normal and we discuss how I feel about it. I suggest reaching out to your treatment team because they can validate how you feel but also give you the facts!!
Q. How do you balance the demands of college while maintaining stable recovery?
A. At this point in my recovery, it feels normal to me to balance the two, but when I started my freshman year, it was so overwhelming. BUT FLEXIBILITY IS KEY. College is demanding and your schedule gets crazy hectic, but you have to make room for snacks and meals. For me, sometimes this means eating in class or at work. You can’t use your busy schedule as an excuse to not eat. You have to be proactive and make a plan for the times that you’re busy! When signing up for classes, I always make sure to have a break in between classes to have lunch. Figure out what works for you, and stick with that! Reach out to your friends and let them know what’s going on so that they can keep you accountable. If you’re struggling, make sure to always go to the dining hall with friends. Work with your school to get some accommodations if needed. It’s challenging, but as long as you stick to what you know you need to do, it’ll become second nature!
Q. What are some things that are helpful and supportive to say to a person recovering from an eating disorder as opposed to the well-meaning yet destructive comments?
A. Thank you so much for asking this question. I know it’s really easy to say, “Wow, you look so healthy!” or something of that nature, but to someone in recovery, their eating disorder can twist that to mean “Wow, you look so FAT!” It’s best to stray away from commenting on the person’s appearance. Tell them that you’re proud of them. Acknowledge that recovery is so so hard, and validate how they feel. Offer to help them in any way that you can, whether that be meal support or accountability or distraction. Acknowledge that you don’t understand what recovering from an eating disorder is like, but always be willing to listen to them. Remind them that they’re worthy and capable and that you believe in them. Most of all, just be there for them!!
Q. How do you start a relationship with God, and how does that affect/play into your recovery?
A. You start a relationship with God like you do any other relationship. You spend time with him. I started doing this by starting a prayer journal, which is just a normal journal, but you address your journal entries to God as a prayer. For me, that was an easy way to begin my prayer life because I was doing something that I’d normally do, but I was making it a spiritual practice. And reading your Bible is so important! I recommend starting with the Gospels so you can learn about who Jesus is and what he did for you. Feel free to comment or message me for more book suggestions! Get plugged in with a good Christian community, whether that be a youth group or Bible study or whatever. Most importantly, just push through and put in the effort to get to know God, even if you can’t feel him! The more you learn about him, the more you’ll be able to feel his presence.
My faith plays a big part of my recovery. I feel like the two go hand and hand. For me personally, I don’t think I’d be in recovery if it weren’t for Jesus. Knowing Jesus gives me a purpose and a reason to not live a miserable life of self-destructive behaviors. The more I know Jesus, the more I want to live for him and in line with what his Word says. Jesus is the most important thing to me, and if I want to live for him, I can’t live for my eating disorder.
Q. For you, what is the most rewarding part of recovery?
A. The freedom that I experience. Recovery is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am the happiest that I have been in years. Being able to eat and laugh and live life without ruining friendships or isolating or feeling guilty or as if I’m drowning all the time is the best feeling. I’d never give up on this journey because recovery offers me so much more freedom than my eating disorder ever did.
Q. Do you believe in full recovery? And if so, how do you know when you’re fully recovered?
A. I do. I don’t/won’t believe that we’re made to live in our eating disorders for the rest of our lives. We’re made to live in full freedom, and I believe that that is possible after a lot of hard work. I think full recovery comes when you don’t hear your eating disorder’s voice all the time anymore. I think when the voices do come (which they will from time to time because #dietculture), recovered is being able to immediately combat the eating disorder voice as lies without thinking and without urges to act on behaviors. It takes a while to get to fully recovered. It’s a gradual process, but one day you’ll realize that you haven’t had thoughts or urges in so long and that you eat whatever you want without a second thought. I don’t know how long it takes. But I do know that I’m over a year into this journey, and I’m still not recovered. But I’m getting there. And I fully believe that it will happen one day, and I don’t think that that day is too far off.
Q. As a Christian, do you believe that you can be fully 100% healed from a mental illness through the Holy Spirit?
A. I think so. I had a pretty instantaneous moment of healing from self-harm, so I do know that the Holy Spirit can heal mental illness or self-destructive behaviors. As I mentioned in the above question, I believe that full recovery is possible. God doesn’t always heal through prayer and the laying of hands; sometimes God heals through doctors and therapists and other treatment providers. I wouldn’t be in recovery if it weren’t for going to Carolina House, but I believe that God worked through that treatment and is still working through my continual outpatient treatment. It’s a hard question to answer, and I’d love to talk one-on-one if you’re interested! But short answer, I believe that 100% healing//full recovery is possible. Healing can obviously come to those who are not Christians (SO many people from other religions are fully recovered), but I do believe that the Holy Spirit can bring that same healing, whether instantaneous or by working through worldly treatment. In this blog post, I talk about my instantaneous healing from self-harm and how I feel like God is still a big part of my eating disorder recovery, even though I did not experience the same instant healing through prayer.
Q. What is your favorite DBT skill?
A. Opposite action. As much as I hate it sometimes, it’s the most useful skill in my opinion! When my eating disorder says no to pizza or ice cream or whatever, I force myself to say yes and eat it anyway BECAUSE SCREW MY EATING DISORDER. I think recovery is basically summed up as opposite action because you never feel 100% ready, but you choose to recover anyway.
Q. What is your favorite self-care activity?
A. I’m a huge introvert, so I love having alone time. Whether that’s reading or painting my nails or watching Netflix (or all three!), I love having a night to myself to decompress and let my emotions level out without overflowing.
This was so fun, y’all! Thanks for sending in such great questions. 🙂 Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or opinions to any of my answers! And feel free to contact me if you have anymore questions. Thanks for being so awesome!!!