Eating Disorder Flare Ups in Times of Stress
Please don't be hard on yourself, if you are struggling more than usual with thoughts. Please don't be hard on yourself if you're engaging in behaviors that you previously "conquered." It is so important to normalize the non-linear, unpredictable nature of recovery! Within the chaos, however, certain patterns do emerge.. For example, increased stress in your environment can result in increased emotional stress (internal). When we are feeling intense emotions, we naturally look to see how we can cope with the feeling.
Just because you are struggling, doesn't mean you aren't doing the work. We tend to judge ourselves for struggling, when in fact, that's the harder thing to do! The easier thing to do would be giving in to the behavior. Sometimes the thoughts can feel so intense that we feel guilty, even if we didn't do anything! Lots of "this shouldn't be happening at this point in my recovery" and "I should be past this by now" are being thrown around in my (virtual) office.
There’s a common misconception that once you’ve had “treatment” you are “cured.” The reality is that eating disorders are complex, and so is recovery; it looks different for everyone. The one thing most recovery pictures have in common, however, is struggle! No matter how much treatment you have had, you are still hardwired to experience emotions in certain ways, which pair with different behaviors and urges.
Treatment does not help you "unlearn" your eating disorder. Instead, treatment helps you learn new ways of addressing and expressing/ managing your emotions, which results in more adaptive behaviors and less maladaptive behaviors (aka eating disorder behaviors).
You can have all the urges and thoughts, all day long. It's the pattern of what you do with them that constitutes recovery.
Please remember that just because there is struggle, doesn’t mean there isn’t work being done. It’s a normal and welcome part of the process: choosing to struggle is the harder thing to do. It’s a good sign, in my opinion. It means you’re tuned in to yourself and the world around you. It means you want recovery.
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