You have your supports, you have motivation to change your behaviors and get well, but for some reason taking any steps towards recovery makes you feel like you are committing a heinous crime and probably deserve to be locked up for it!
But why? Isn’t recovery supposed to feel good?
Well yes… eventually. To understand why recovery can feel so wrong, we need to understand a little more about the nature of eating disorders. Since becoming unwell, the eating disorder has been working away to make you believe that its values and priorities are your values and priorities. You begin to feel that the ED’s goals are yours and engaging in ED behaviors help progress you towards these goals. This is what we call ‘ego syntonic’, where your actions and behaviors correlate with the goals you (or should we say your ED) are working towards. This is what ED’s thrive on. The positive feelings when you use a behavior, those feelings of success, control, winning, whatever it is that you experience, that reinforces the desire to use behaviors. And so, time goes on and you continue to use these behaviors, experiencing the good the bad and ugly that the ED brings. So, when the time comes to start considering recovery and the shining light on the horizon starts to excite you, you are met with extreme resistance from the ED.
Your ED has allowed you to believe in its set of rules, guidelines and values. It has ingrained these into you, making you believe that this is what YOU believe. We become conditioned to the ED way of life, so anything against that is threatening, scary and feels oh so wrong.
This is the reality of the disease and of recovery. Logically you can know what you need to do to get well but engaging in helpful behaviors can be incredibly hard to do when it feels completely counter-intuitive.
In order to move forward, we need to accept that the ED may resist at every opportunity. We need to accept that there is a part of the self that cannot be trusted to make a recovery focused choice. This is why it is so important to have a support network, so that people can help you reality test the ED thoughts, decide what thought to action and what to challenge and to help set you on the right course when it feels like your ED has spun you around 3 times and left you in the middle of nowhere.
At some point in your recovery you will be able to recognize the wins and celebrate them for what they are. The more times we push against the ED, the weaker it becomes.