Do all disordered thoughts end when you decide that you no longer want to succumb to the weight of Eating Disorders? Rebecca Tishman, our resident teen blogger who has detailed her recovery for over a year now here at DrRobynSilverman.com, admits a hard truth: She still struggles but thankfully, she’s stronger than her eating disorder. By publicly exposing the truth about her not-so-perfect recovery road, she sheds light in the eyes of ED and diminishes it’s power. Good for you, Rebecca. We’re rooting for you.
Let me just come clean. It’s taken me awhile to come up with what I would write next. In one of my latest articles for Dr. Robyn I wrote about being far along in my recovery and seeing how being fully recovered could be an attainable goal. Well how could I top that? I couldn’t very well admit after that article that I’m having a hard time…could I?
I thought not. But over the past week or so I’ve realized that’s just what I should be telling people. We all need to know that recovery is not a smooth path but rather a fluid thing with ups and downs. Some days are good; some days are not so good; some days are mixtures. But it’s all a learning experience.
By hiding the fact that my old behaviors and thoughts have been peeking out recently, I’m not fooling anyone but myself. By refusing to admit my struggle, I’m letting ED take control again. I want the public to know that these thoughts don’t just go away, never to resurface again; but, rather, it’s possible that they will be there forever, and it’s what you do to counter them that matters. When I was in inpatient treatment we used a technique called “reframing” to turn a negative thought or behavior into a positive one.
Some of the thoughts ED has been bringing up recently go something like this:
- “You’ll never be happy with yourself. Why do you bother fighting against me? You might as well just give in.”
- “You can’t possibly be thinking about going swimming in a bathing suit. You’re way too big for that to be flattering. You should go back to wearing long sleeves and long pants everyday.”
- “You are eating way too much food and your body is growing rapidly. You’ll be a whale before you know it.”
How I’ve been reframing these thoughts:
- “There are many parts of my life that I am happy with—I can find ways of incorporating positive aspects of what’s good in my life into parts that I’m not so happy with now.”
- “By wearing long sleeves and long pants in the hot spring and summer months, I draw more attention to myself and my body than if I just wore weather appropriate clothes confidently.”
- “While I could stay a lower weight and be more pleased with my body weight and shape, that would require me to go back to eating a limited food pallet, not listening to hunger cues, denying my body of the nutrients it needs, and not enjoying food as much.”
I’ve also changed up my routines to combat these negative thoughts. With a new routine, it’s hard to stay in a rut and not acknowledge the thoughts and behaviors I’ve been giving in to. For me that meant moving to a new state on my own and starting a new job. Changing my behaviors has encouraged me to work harder at resisting the ED related thoughts.
Perhaps with more time and diligent reframing, the thoughts will eventually dissipate but it’s naïve of me to expect them to be completely gone this early on in my recovery. I can’t allow myself to be discouraged when they come up.
Sometimes, I even have to reframe the fact that I’m annoyed those negative thoughts are still there at all. But I think of it this way: At least they are there to remind me that I need to actively fight back. I can’t just slide by or else they really can take over again. They remind me that I need to take an active role in my recovery and be conscious of my thoughts and behaviors—not just be a passive spectator in my own life
There’s no shame in having these thoughts and wanting to act on these behaviors. By being honest with myself and with my supporters I, and others, have the power to fight back. Together we can demand ED to let us fully live our lives.
Thank you for sharing, Rebecca. No doubt you are not alone in this struggle. Clearly, there is no magic button that banishes body Image issues and disordered thinking. Your courage and strength is obvious and we are all behind you- cheering you on. Readers; please feel free to leave comments here or on my Facebook fan page for the fabulous Rebecca or simply to lend your voice to the discussion.