People with Eating Disorders Can and Do Recover

For the majority of people with an eating disorder there comes a time when their lives become unmanageable and they make a decision to seek help. They may be afraid to seek help because recovery means letting go of the eating disorder. Up to this point, the eating disorder has brought reassurance, and safety, and the experience of being in control.

The longer it is established, the more it will take on a life of its own and take over the life of the person affected. The person is then caught in a bind. For many, overwhelming feelings of helplessness, guilt, shame and self-disgust become a block to seeking help. Fear of having their eating disorder taken from them, fear of letting it go, and fear of change are huge barriers to getting help.

Recovery is a form of re-learning which involves constant practice.

It is a gradual process, involving many challenges and small changes. As a person learns to let go of their eating disorder they find recovery is a learning process that involves steps forward and steps backwards. But every one of these steps is a positive learning tool.

Much sensitivity, compassion, respect, unconditional love, and patience, will be needed by those around them, this includes family friends, and the treatment team. An individual must learn to trust that nothing awful will happen if they let go a little of the eating disorder (control). When they manage this a feeling of safety gradually begins to build, and self confidence that it can be done grows.

Recovery is many things, and it only truly begins with the will to change. It is about taking responsibility, establishing ones own limits and accepting those of others, and it is about commitment and courage. One thing is for certain and that is it can not be forced. Recovery allows the person to live their life in a way that is not driven by a need to control. Rather it is about an individual who is secure enough in themselves to live their life, welcoming its ebb and flow, safe in the knowledge that they can trust themselves to manage and be able to cope.

Adapted and with permission from Eating Disorders and the Recovery Process, MA Thesis.
Harriet Parsons MA, MSc(Psychotherapy), Services Coordinator, Bodywhys – the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland.”

For more information on Eating Disorders, click here.

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Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2022

February 28th – March 6th

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