Something many people have told me over the years is that the decision to open up about having an eating disorder, and to start a journey of recovery, was a very, very scary thing to do. The discussion often goes a little like this: the eating disorder isn’t making life good, but recovery is an unknown, and therefore scary.
I hear you. Unknowns are often scary. That’s a fair call. And eating disorders often play upon that fear – putting forth “worst case scenarios” that might come about if you stray from the familiar eating disorder rules…
But take a moment to consider: what if the best-case scenario plays out during recovery?
- Is there any evidence that the worst-case scenario is more likely to occur than the best-case scenario? Or, are you being influenced by fear, especially the fear of the unknown?
- How will you know how your body will respond to the recovery process, if you never try?
Below is a list of some of the positive outcomes to occur because someone chose to challenge their eating disorder, as mentioned to me by various clients over the years.
Some of the positive outcomes of recovery are health changes, some are lifestyle changes, some are changes to family dynamics, and some are changes occurring within the mind. What you might notice is how broad, and far-reaching many of these positives changes are. You might be surprised by how quickly some of the changes can take place, whilst others have a much longer lead-in time. Of course, recovery is a very personal process, as are the impacts of eating disorders on individual people. Also, bear in mind that the things people choose to report back to me will depend a lot on their personal framework of priorities, and the stage of recovery that they are at.
Positive things that can occur as a result of challenging an eating disorder
I have compile a list of Positive things that can occur as a result of challenging an eating disorder (nb: this is definitely not an exhaustive list – consider this a work in progress!)
- Going travelling and feeling free to fully immerse themselves in the process
- Seeing more of their friends
- Less guilt
- Less worry
- No more keeping secrets
- Socialising more – not making excuses to opt out of parts of the night
- Healthier skin
- More vitality/improvements to feelings of fatigue
- Better concentration
- Improved sleep
- More laughter
- Healthier bones
- Fewer gut problems and indigestion/pain
- Fewer headaches
- Ability to go back to uni fulltime
- Improved fertility
- Thicker/healthier hair
- Better mood – not cranky all the time
- Less anxiety
- More mental freedom. No longer being consumed by tallying up ED rules through the day
- Fewer arguments with loved ones/less tension in the house
- More enthusiasm/curiosity about life
- And, of course, better health, improved immune function, and the ability to eat without fear or shame – which are the ultimate goals of recovery
So that’s my list, based on what I’ve heard over the years. Take a moment to consider it now. Would it be worthwhile taking that step into the unknown that is recovery, when you see what might lie on the other side?
And can anyone help you? I’ve answered this question with respect to Anorexia here (the short answer is Yes!), and have listed 5 reasons you should see an Eating Disorders dietitian, but likewise the advice applies to other eating disorder patterns as well.