So often I hear patients in early recovery questioning whether it is really working because they don’t feel better already. They share their discouragement about how they are working really hard and discuss just how hard it is to not engage in their eating disorder. The first thing I usually ask is how long have they been working on their recovery versus the length of time being in the eating disorder.
The answer is usually along the lines of, “Well, I’ve been in my ED for 5 years and have been in recovery for two months.” Most often a smile appears on their faces shortly thereafter as they realize that it might be unrealistic to expect complete satisfaction with their lives after such a short period in recovery. I remember when I was in early recovery thinking similarly. Recovery is difficult and it often feels unnatural in the beginning—simply because it is!
It’s hard to use coping mechanisms that are healthy when you’re so used to relying on the ED to deal with your emotions. How courageous of you to be willing to do the work!! AND, it DOES get EASIER over time. I had a philosophy professor that put it like this: Your mind is like a muscle. Thinking differently is like going back to exercising after an injury. At first it is hard, it may even hurt, and you may not want to go back to the gym.
But, with some patience and perseverance, it gets easier. You may even start to feel stronger. Recovery thinking is exactly the same. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the stronger you feel about your recovery. How are you feeling about recovery today???