Health, Honesty and Trust in Recovery
No- it’s a negative word. No one really likes the word ‘no’. There’s zero positivity in it. You hardly ever ask a question when you want the answer to be ‘no’.
What do you feel when you hear ‘no’? Frustration? Anger? Disappointment? Upset? ‘No’ is never really a pleasant response to receive.
However, at some point we all have to hear that two-lettered literary let down and in recovery, you may hear it a lot more which can be very, very frustrating.
Recovery is meant to be a freeing experience where you can break out of the miserably strict ED rules and regimes so when someone tries to ‘restrict’ you seems like it’s defeating the whole point but they are definitely not.
For example, you may say:
“I want x instead of y for my lunch today”
“Can I go for a run?”
“My friends are going out tonight. I want to go with them”
All ordinary things that a normal, healthy person would do.
Whoever it is- parents, carers, family, friends, roommates, partner, doctor, therapist etc- they aren’t doing it to work against or upset you. They are doing it to protect you.
Eating disorders are very dangerous: life threatening even. The last thing the people around you want to do is lose you, so they try to keep you safe whilst you are still in this unhealthy ‘danger zone’. This could mean a low weight, but it could also mean mental health too. Letting the eating disorder behaviours control you still is not recovery. Remember that health is about mental and physical states, hence eating disorders being a mental illness with physical consequences, not the other way around. Ensure you are safe physically and in the right state of mind to do anything different.
Even if you believe that what you are doing won’t harm you or is something disordered, it may not be the case because eating disorders can twist your sense of reasoning so you can’t see the truth.
This is when trust comes into it. You need to put trust in your family, friends and treatment teams that what they say is the right thing to do. After listening to the evil ED voice for so long, it can be hard to let the control switch from it to someone else. It will scream and shout at you; bully you in order to maintain its manipulation. It will feel so wrong and frightening but these feelings will pass and you have the strength to persevere through them. Remember: the doctors, therapists etc are professionals and know what is best. They don’t have an illness blurring their judgement.
No one is trying to ‘make you fat’ or ‘ruin your life’ (common thoughts I have believed before). No one is trying to hurt you. Everyone is just trying to get you healthy, happy and well.
Trust works two ways too. It might be the unfortunate case that those around you have lost a little trust in you (not directly because of you as a person, mostly because of how your eating disorder has influenced your behaviour like in the past). They are fearful of what the consequences will be if they allow you do what you wish – in case you are following your eating disorder. In this instance, you need to start working on gaining their trust back. Not purely for you to have more freedom again, but for you to also repair and improve your relationship between each other.
In my opinion, the best way to build trust is to be open and honest with people. Tell them how you feel, explain your thoughts, express opinions, share victories and declare slip-ups. The more a person understands you, the better they can get a sense of your true self and be more confident in knowing your true desires; treatment can be tailored to you so it is most effective; you will be more confident in sharing problems which takes a ton of pressure off your back. Honestly, honesty is the best policy.
Building trust does not mean having to do exactly what people say without fail, negative feelings or thoughts because that is unrealistic: no one is perfect and recovery is hard. There will be times you take a step backwards and that’s ok. As long as you let people know and work through it safely, you will stay on the right track.
Please, please don’t bottle up feelings or ‘put on a brave face’ if you start to struggle. I know from experience keeping stuff in can tear you up inside which is horrible and something no one deserves to feel. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’
So, maybe you do genuinely want to go on that run.
Or genuinely want to go out to that party.
Though ask yourself, do YOU want to or does your eating disorder want to?
Is it safe and healthy for you to do this right now?
‘No’ is a displeasing and disheartening word to hear, but remember whoever is telling you ‘no’ is just trying to protect you.
Be honest and reform each other’s trust and you’ll be able to do all the things you want when you’re better.
Stay safe everyone <3