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What To Expect When Recovering From Anorexia & Bulimia

March 11, 2014

Recovering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia is a difficult journey that requires immense strength and dedication. However, with a strong support network and manageable goals, you'll be able to regain control of your self image and live a happy and healthy life.  It's important to know what to expect when recovering from anorexia or bulimia. Each recovery experience varies from individual to individual, but there are a few factors to consider:

1)  Recovery will require more than just your body.

Anorexia and bulimia are mental illnesses, even though many of the symptoms manifest physically.  Both are categorized by an obsession with thinness, a distorted body image, and a fear of gaining weight.  The first aspect to understand is that anorexia and bulimia are being used to meet a need that you have in your life.  You'll need to identify that need and work on healthier coping mechanisms and ways to fill it.  Without treating the underlying cause of the fears, you'll never truly feel better.  Healthy eating goes a long way, but it means nothing if you're still judging your self-worth by your weight.

2)  Triggers might be found in strange places.

Messages that trigger the fear of weight gain can be found everywhere.  Most media is tailored to praise thinness above all else; many models are clinically anorexic or bulimic.  Even articles that promote healthy weight loss might trigger that fear.  You'll have to identify your triggers and do your best to stay away from them.  Sometimes you're exposed to triggering situations without expecting it, though.  In these cases, you'll need to have a plan regarding how to take care of yourself when you've been triggered.  Whether this involves reaching out to somebody or working through the feelings on your own, you deserve to feel happy and safe.

3)  Letting go of old habits will be difficult.

When we've had certain routines for a long time, they're incredibly difficult to relinquish.  This sentiment is increased tenfold when those routines have been helping us cope with daily life.  Letting go of your fears and rituals regarding eating and purging will be difficult, and might have to come with time.  But ultimately it is rewarding.

4)  Embracing yourself will take time.

Recovery is a difficult and arduous process.  Some days will be better than others, while some will be worse.  The journey can be frustrating and painful at times, but every step you take forward is an important one.  It's important to keep your eyes on the end goal, even if you're having trouble meeting your own expectations on a certain day.

5)  Your self image will eventually improve.

Though it might take time, eventually you'll be able to appreciate yourself.  You'll be able to equate your self worth to more than your weight, and to acknowledge that you are more than your body.  You'll be able to live your life in a way that makes you happy, instead of always trying to achieve a standard of perfection that doesn't exist.  You will be able to do these things.  You deserve to do these things.

Each person's recovery experience will be different, but the end result is always possible.  You can get better.  You can love yourself.  It's always possible, even in the most dire seeming circumstances.

It's possible, and you deserve that.

By, Katie MacEachern

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