Here at Gemmed, we always say that recovery is not linear. This means that there are often ups and downs that anyone with an eating disorder experiences on the road to recovery.
We want our clients and anyone with a history of eating disorders to be aware of this, not only as a reminder to keep up the good work as they work through their recovery goals, but also to be mindful of it after they’ve reached the point where they consider themselves to be fully recovered from their eating disorder. Relapses don’t happen to everyone who recovers from their eating disorder, but they are very common and we encourage everyone to be realistic about the possibility of a relapse.
A relapse can happen quickly, and before you even know it you are back to your old disordered eating habits and negative body-talk. So what can you do to stay vigilant around relapses? Here’s a few tips!
- Keep Up With Your Treatment Team: Just because you are in recovery, doesn’t mean you should stop seeing your therapist or schedule a few check-in appointments with your dietitian throughout the year. The best way to keep a relapse at bay is to continue talking about yourself and your feelings with a trusted clinician.
- Watch Out for Warning Signs: What were your go-to behaviors when you were knee-deep in your eating disorder? Restriction? Bingeing? Purging? Now think about what were the precursors to those behaviors? Isolation, excessive exercise, body-checking, negative self-talk, emotional suppression? Keep an eye out for those warning signs, because leaning into those habits can be a slippery slope leading you straight back into your eating disorder.
- Talk It Out: Speaking of emotional suppression and isolation, keep tabs on your social activity. Are you staying in consistent contact with friends? Or do you find yourself cancelling plans, keeping secrets and not sharing your feelings with friends, family or your therapist? If the latter is true, know that that is an environment your old eating disorder loves, so don’t give it the chance to! Make plans with friends a few times a week, call your family and loved ones often and do self-care activities for yourself that make you feel happy and fulfilled.
- Celebrate Yourself!: You have made so many incredible strides and done some serious hard work to reach your “recovered” status. Celebrate that as often as you can! The more you celebrate your healthy and recovered self, whether it’s through something big like a spa day or something small like a hug from a loved one, the more you keep reminding yourself of how far you’ve come and how amazing you are!