This is a vulnerable admission for me to write, but my 15-year battle with an eating disorder has made an impact on my sexual desire. There—I confessed it openly. I pushed back against the shame, embarrassment, and insecurity that too often silences me on this particular issue.
Eating Disorders Recovery
For those of us who have or have had eating disorders, the feeling of a full stomach can be an extremely disconcerting sensation. Sitting after a meal while feeling full can cause anxiety and guilt. I've been in recovery for nearly a decade and I still sometimes struggle with feeling full, but learning how to be okay with being full was an important step in my eating disorder (ED) recovery.
I don't believe in eating disorder triggers. Sounds pretty bold, right? We live in a world awash with eating disorder (ED) trigger warnings and those of us who are in ED recovery are constantly warned to avoid our triggers lest we slip back into old habits, and I straight-up say I don't believe in them.
Social justice and eating disorder recovery are two of the driving forces in my life. It informs my relationships, conversations, and writing, but I cannot take credit for this—eating disorder recovery introduced me to social justice.
Eating disorder resolutions for the new year should focus on health, not food, weight, or exercise. All too often in this culture, New Year's resolutions focus on those things. It's just another confirmation that society as a whole is image-obsessed to an unhealthy extreme.
When did I start eating disorder recovery? The timelines don't add up. Whenever I talk about my eating disorder recovery, there seems to be an inconsistency in the timeline I give for when my eating disorders first really began to flourish, and when I entered recovery. This disparity didn't occur to me until I listened to the video I prepared to introduce myself as an author here at HealthyPlace. In the video, I say that I battled with anorexia and bulimia for almost two decades. Then, I say that I've been in recovery for almost 10 years. I also mention that I'm 38 years old. So what gives?
If you have dealt with any patterns of disordered eating in your life, chances are these behaviors were—or continue to be—fueled by negative self-talk around body image. Since the brain is a complex, independent, thinking organism, self-talk is an intrinsic part of the human experience. You are hardwired for internal dialog with yourself, and this is not always problematic. That endless stream-of-consciousness in your head is shaped by the beliefs, perspectives, attitudes, and observations that help you negotiate the world around you. When used constructively, self-talk can empower you to confront fears, gain motivation or discipline, boost confidence, and strengthen areas of improvement. But if this self-talk turns critical toward yourself—in particular, how you look or what you weigh—it causes shame to take root and harmful behaviors to manifest which could result in an eating disorder. So it's important to learn how to reframe your negative self-talk around body image into a kinder, more compassionate dialog.
It's official: The holiday season has arrived, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner which means that eating disorder (ED) survival tips are now more important than ever. This time of year is known for family traditions and cultural festivities, but it can also feel like a burden if you are in recovery from an eating disorder. Maybe there's a relative who points out the number of calories everyone is about to consume at the dinner table. Perhaps your well-intentioned grandmother hounds you to take seconds on dessert or the conversation detours to how "healthy" and "normal" your weight has started to look.
It's my final post on "Surviving ED" for HealthyPlace and I part with a hopeful goodbye. I've been grateful for the opportunity to write about and raise awareness of eating disorders. In recent years, I've witnessed the tide turning as the conversation about eating disorders has focused on its complexity and diversity. I hope that together, as survivors and mental health professionals and advocates, we continue chipping away at the stigma that accompanies food-related mental illness, so that more and more individuals struggling in isolation can get the help they need.
Eating disorder recovery is arduous enough on its own, but add in the harmful reality that some eating disorder behaviors are endorsed by wellness culture, and healing from this issue can seem downright impossible at times.