Part 1: Shake it up
If you are feeling stuck in recovery, perhaps it’s time to shake things up! Do something different that makes you uncomfortable and see what happens.
Perhaps it means leaning into some fears that you’re holding on to around eating. (Hello, fear foods!)
Or maybe it means taking a risk somewhere in your life that you've been putting off. (New job, socializing more, dating?)
Shaking things up is almost certain to illuminate other areas recovery that you could work on and that will help further your journey.
If you continue to do the same thing you are without every ever trying anything different or new you’re going to continue to stay at this place that you are. By doing something different you will get something different.
What can you do to shake things up today?
Part 2: Unrealistic expectations
Another consideration is whether you’re putting unrealistic expectations on yourself. Turns out that perfectionism goes hand-in-hand with eating disorders.
I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve had clients say, “I’ve been doing treatment for [X amount of time] and I’m still not all the way recovered.” To which I usually say, “Of course you’re not! It takes YEARS to recover. You didn’t develop the ED overnight, and you won’t recover from it overnight either.”
It’s hard to be patient with ourselves, I get it.
Sometimes the recovery process has periods of times that are lulls or stalls. And that doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made. Sometimes it just means that you need a minute to get your feet back under you.
Let’s remember that recovery isn’t a linear process - meaning that every day is not better than the day before. There will be ups and downs peaks and valleys along the way and that’s part of the gift of the journey is the learning that comes from the times when you struggle.
The research on the duration of recovery is somewhat hard to interpret because we haven’t fully agreed on a consensus definition of what recovery even means. Some researchers will define it as being weight restored (whatever that means), others will define it as a period of abstinence from eating disorder behaviors.
But we all know that just because the behaviors are gone doesn’t mean that you don’t have all of the same thoughts and feelings that I’ve always been there.
So it’s hard to say what recovered really means. But the point here is that recovery, regardless of how you look at it, takes years. Not months not days - years.
There are a lot of factors that will go into the duration of recovery, but the point is is that it takes a long time. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself that lead you to beat yourself up when it’s not going fast enough, or when you’re not doing it perfectly, or when it’s not over as soon as you had created a deadline for it to be.
We don’t get to choose the length of the journey, we just have to go along for the ride.