Posts Tagged ‘Recovery’

How to Separate Yourself from Your Eating Disorder

A person writing on a notepad

Written in partnership with Thom Rutledge

Thom Rutledge, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, author, speaker, and workshop facilitator based in Nashville, TN. He wrote Life without Ed (with co-author Jenni Schaefer), as well as Embracing Fear, The Self-Forgiveness Handbook, The Greater Possibilities, and others. Learn more about Thom and his work at thomrutledge.com, and find him on Facebook and Instagram.

If there were an eating disorder canon, Jenni Schaefer and Thom Rutledge’s Life Without Ed would surely be in it. We see the bestseller often and with praise in reading lists and recovery stories, its lessons evoked whenever we refer to the eating disorder’s “voice.” The book demonstrates how to view your eating disorder, “Ed,” as an entity with its own values, interests, and beliefs. There is Ed, and then there is you.

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Advice for those struggling with an eating disorder during COVID-19

Woman holding face mask

Give voice to your feelings

“I’m struggling.”

If you’re struggling with your eating disorder right now, say that out loud. Say it so others can hear it and so you can hear it. Say, “Maybe I’m not okay. Maybe this situation is affecting me more than I care to admit. It’s hard—really hard—and I’m terrified it will always be.”

If your eating disorder feels silly, insignificant, or selfish in the wake of the coronavirus, you can say that. If you’re afraid the crisis will ruin the progress you’ve made in recovery, say that. If you’re hurt or annoyed by jokes about quarantine binges. . . or convinced you should “save” food for the uncertain future. . . or, frankly, more worried about weight gain than about contracting the virus itself. . . say these things.

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“Finally I Am Able to Breathe”

Sunlight behind silhouette of trees

**Content warning: Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Scarlet Freese struggled with anorexia from a young age. She wrote this poem to illustrate the contrast between the darkness of an eating disorder and the light of recovery. She wants others to know “it is so possible to recover.”

There is no light in this forest,
No candle or shining star
No map to guide me through this dark night

I am alone,
Completely alone

The wolves move in, surrounding me
I get pulled apart, piece by piece
Until all I am left with is a spark of hope

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Demi Lovato Shows That Recovery Is a Process

Demi Lovato

Eating disorder stories are often told with a “before” and an “after.”

Sick and well. Unhealthy and healthy. Ill and recovered.

At one end of the spectrum are those sick (“sick enough”) for care, and at the other, those celebrating complete freedom from their illness. Often in celebrity coverage, it’s either speculation that a star is “too thin”—a problematic conflation of weight and health, to be sure—or a bold declaration of self-acceptance and body positivity from someone who has seemingly put the issues behind them.

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“Come As You Are” This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Twin Cities, MN NEDA Walk 2020

Your recovery is valid and important, even if:

You don’t need to restore your weight.
You don’t need inpatient or residential treatment.
Or you do need treatment for the 2nd, 3rd, or 19th time.
You never felt “ready” to recover, or you did and then you didn’t.
You can think of 1001 other things you “should” do first.
Besides, you’re not sure you’re “sick enough” anyway.

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Beat the Winter Blues to Keep Your Recovery on Track

Man sitting on snowy ground

This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Lisa Whalen has an M.A. in creative and critical writing and a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education. She teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at North Hennepin Community College in Minnesota. Whalen’s writing has been featured in several literary journals and edited collections. Her book, Weight Lifted: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses, and Hope, will be published near the end of 2020. For updates and more about Whalen’s writing, visit her website or follow her @LisaIrishWhalen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Winter is tough, especially in northern states like Minnesota, where 2020 delivered the gloomiest January on record. Meteorologists claim the sun appeared on 3 of January’s 31 days, but I’m skeptical. Maybe I was teaching in windowless classrooms during the sun’s brief peeks from behind gray clouds, but in early February, I couldn’t remember a single yellow ray since mid-December.

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