The physical changes that are happening during my recovery make me want to give up. What do I do?
One of the things that is so important with eating disorder recovery is to recognise that it is not just about forcing your body to change. If you are somebody who has been really underweight and you have been restricting your food, forcing yourself into a meal plan and neglecting to pay attention to how that illness has impacted your mental health, this will lead to a real disparity between how your body is progressing and how your mind is progressing. What’s really important is that those progressions are made simultaneously so if your body is changing, that your mind and mental health is recovering at the same rate because it makes it a lot easier for you to be able to cope with any physical changes you might be going through.
There are days when it is going to be difficult. Just trust that tomorrow or within a few hours things could feel very different and that actually it is more of a reflection of how you are feeling emotionally than anything that you are going through physically.
Getting bigger scares me. What can I do?
What an eating disorder does is that it makes this fear of getting bigger so alarming that it makes people retreat and not even try to get better at all. Being in recovery from an eating disorder isn’t trading one type of disordered eating to another. It doesn’t mean that people go from really restricting their food to really overeating their food, that’s just swaying from one eating disorder behaviour to another.
When you are getting into recovery it means that you are establishing a really healthy and nurturing way of treating yourself and feeding yourself and that doesn’t mean you are going to suddenly become obese over night. So just be mindful that the eating disorder has lies that it tells you in order to stop you trying to progress.
How do I cope with weight gain when I appreciate myself more when I am skinny?
For any of us (and I believe this is particularly true for women), our bodies change so radically throughout our lives and if we place our self acceptance on how we look at any point then we are setting ourselves up for real disappointment.
So many of us can appreciate how we looked in our youth compared to when we get older and I don’t think that is unusual but there is a big difference in validation based on how we look and how we feel about ourselves.
When we start to feel confident and peaceful about who we are as people, then our bodies can change, our bodies can age and we can still maintain that sense of feeling good about ourselves regardless of those changes. Ideally that’s what we all really want to be aspiring to.
What is the difference between Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and not liking the way you look?
The difference between Body Dysmorphic Disorder and not liking the way you look is that when people have Body Dysmorphic Disorder what they see isn’t what the rest of us see. You could, to a certain extent, argue that for any of us that we can somehow see parts of ourselves as unattractive in a way that others don’t. For somebody with Body Dysmorphic Disorder it is much more complex than that – for example, someone can imagine they have severe acne all over their face but really their skin is completely clear to the rest of us. It is a very deluded perception of what they see of themselves. There are degrees of that e.g. somebody sees themself a lot bigger than they are and it might be a little more subtle but that’s the difference between looking at ourselves and thinking actually, I’m not so keen on that part of myself or this part of myself is not so attractive as I would like. It’s a different thing.
Do you think social media is bad for how we view our bodies?
Social media can be bad. It depends on what you are looking at. One of the things social media does offer people are communities of support – of other people who are suffering, who can be supportive, but it can also be used as a really destructive tool as well.
We need to think about how we are using social media and what kind of accounts we are following. Are they making us feel good or are they triggering us? If they are triggering us then we have the option to not follow them. Overall, social media could be a really useful tool but it isn’t always necessarily used in that way.
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