Recovering from an eating disorder is very hard work. It takes time, energy and effort. I took a semester off of school to take the time and commit my full attention on recovering and boy would I hate to see all that time and energy be a waste if I were to relapse. I was expressing my concern of relapsing to my nutritionist yesterday, when we were discussing me being ready to diverge off my meal plan and begin to eat more intuitively. “Rachel you are so petrified of relapsing”. Petrified seems like a strong word, but my nutritionist is right, I am petrified of relapsing, how would I ever be able to live with myself. I would become so angry and ashamed for allowing myself to go back to that dark place again. I can already imagine how I would feel, what I would think, what I would do if I opened the door once again to my eating disorder.
But should I really live my life in fear of something that hasn’t happened yet? No I should not spend being petrified of something that contrary to past beliefs, I have control over. I didn’t believe this for the longest time, but it is true I have the consciousness and control as to whether or not I engage in eating disorder behaviors. Every day I have a choice, every moment. When I was in my eating disorder I was petrified of weight gain, but now that I am in recovery I find myself petrified once again. I’m looking at relapse incorrectly. Of course relapsing is not something I should plan on but it is not something I should be petrified about. Being petrified is a form of extreme fear and fear causes panic. Part of eating disorder recovery is about getting back in touch with my wise mind. My wise mind tells me what I can do to lower by anxiety over relapsing.
Create the worst case scenario of recovery: I relapse. But I would live. I’d learn from my mistakes once again. Practice makes perfect right? There’s not shame, eating disorders are a mental illness. They are sneaky, a coping skill, an odd form of “protection”. You wouldn’t be a failure. Life si messy, and yes relapsing would make it messier. But with every messy experience in life you learn from it.
Exploring the worst case scenario leads to acceptance. And acceptance feeds the wise mind peace and insight. Now coming up with worst case scenarios is not about expecting and acting as if the worst will happen. But rather it is a mind game, to help put things in perspective. panicking and being petrified are not going to get me any further away from a relapse, using my wise mind and my skills learned in treatment. Being aware and being mindful are the stepping stones to being recovered.