Early recovery is difficult. When we stopped the eating disorder, feelings start to surface. Many times you do not even know what the feeling is. So one of the first new skills in recovery is to be able to identify your feelings. You cannot take care of yourself if you don’t even know what you are feeling. What makes this even more difficult is that the feelings you have been suppressing with the eating disorder now start to surface.
The next new coping skills you need in early recovery is how to deal with the stress and anxiety of everyday living. You need to be comfortable around other people and implement new ways of taking care of yourself. It can be hard not having your usual coping mechanism and feeling so raw. You need to be able to identify your stressors and deal with them in a healthy manner.
One of the most important new skill is in eating disorder recovery is learning to identify your negative self-talk. Again, some people are not even aware of the messages they are telling themselves. This can be one reason why you are using the eating disorder to just stop that negativity going on in your head. If the negative self-talk is not addressed to it can lead you back into the eating disorder.
Some of the people I deal with have long-term recovery from other disorders but still have not been able to recover from disordered eating and eating disorders. It’s just like any other disorder, when you first start recovery it feels like you had never experienced anything of the situations you are now faced with. Most people report doing everything from the point of recovery is different. It feels like you’ve never done it before.
You are still struggling with keeping the eating disorder, thoughts and behaviors at bay. But you need to perform your duties with no coping skills for the anxiety and situations that arise. It takes a lot of courage to push through each one of these barriers to keep progressing towards recovery. I usually recommend a “get well” job. This allows you to practice your coping skills in a work environment with less pressure. At Rebecca’s House we have always stressed the need for “real” world experience while in treatment.
Please stay tuned for my final installment of this article next week!