A New Year. A New You.
“The traffic, the boss, the baby, the dog! That does it! 2021 take me away!” If you can remember the “Calgon Bath Powder” commercial from years ago, this statement might resonate with you still in the throes of a pandemic; or perhaps in the recovery process of an eating disorder. Sinking into a nice, soothing bubble bath will just make this all go away. Just like flipping the calendar to 2021; 2020 will be magically behind us. Worries: gone. We started 2020 with the slogan of “20/20 vision” and the year was set to be extraordinary. Well this has definitely been an extraordinary year without clarity and many unknowns to say the least.
Eating disorder recovery can often take years, even if the development seemed to just “appear” overnight. No different than this pandemic. All of a sudden we are cancelling life as we know it in March just to turn around and have another “wave” of outbreaks with the colder weather in October. We have some hope with a vaccine on its way, yet the vaccine will only be available for those most vulnerable or necessary first. They say life as we know it may not be back to normal until late 2021. Or will it ever return to the normal we once knew? The process feels like there will be no end in sight. Life feels a bit hopeless.
We understand that when an eating disorder is “caught” within the first year, the greater the outcome of someone making a full recovery. However, many have been struggling with disordered behaviors for years. Once diagnosed and the treatment process begins, many state “I just want my life back” as they attend weekly nutrition and therapy sessions, “have to follow a meal plan” or perhaps need to attend a higher level of care facility for more support. Time, energy and money feels like they are continuously drained. The road ahead seems blurry or out of focus. 20/20 vision, going, going, gone.
So dreaming for the calendar to flip to a new year or thinking about sinking into a warm bubble bath to end the constant noise of life will just “make it go away” makes sense. Those thoughts help bring hope for the future, a calmness to the feelings of fear or doubt and soothing to a worn down mind and body.
Recovery is just not that simple. Even if we thought 2020 would bring us a “20/20 vision” and we are ending the year with bifocal glasses, we can still hold hope and reassurance that recovery is possible.
Here are five ways to hold hope for recovery in the new year: Yes they take work, diligence, and a splash of grit (What is Grit?):
1- Keep consistent with your support system. This can include your dietitian, therapist, medical doctor, family members and even little fur babies (animals). Recovery just doesn’t happen in a few weeks. The process generally takes one to two years. Sometimes more time, sometimes less.
2- In social isolation due to a pandemic, continue to cultivate and nourish your relationships with people rather than your eating disorder. Have online game nights, Facetime a friend or write an “old fashioned letter” and drop in the mail (did you ever have a pen pal growing up?).
3- Keep track of evidenced based care and education about effectively treating eating disorders. There are wonderful podcasts, clinicians who write blogs, youtube videos and books to keep your mind on what really works and is effective in the long run.
4-Nourish your mind and body through journaling, honoring your meal plan and challenging disordered eating thoughts around food and behaviors.
5- Reflect back consistently on your recovery process. Recovery is often seen in the months, not the weeks that go by. Create a recovery journal to review from time to time when the process becomes discouraging and overwhelming.
One can be fully recovered from an eating disorder. It’s possible. Hang in there. Hold hope for the amazing adventures that lie ahead. Adventures with much deeper insight and understanding of yourself and an unearthing of strong and courageous you. You’ve got this! So here’s to a New Year. Let’s bring on 2021!