The Grieving Process within Eating Disorder Recovery

Grief is a feeling of despair, uncontrollable and inevitable loss, disappointment, pain, numbness and sadness, an experience that can last a moment or a lifetime, something that is not tangible and can cause isolation and a feeling of alone. Grief is a normal reaction to any kind of loss, as well as, all of the emotions that coincide with the grief, although some emotions may feel abnormal due to misunderstood or unidentified grief, they are not (James & Friedman, 2009). Grief has various definitions, as it is an experience that all individuals face, and in different ways, depending on their loss, and this can cause for confusion and conflicting feelings. These conflicting feelings are usually caused by change in some aspect of an individual’s life, such as, death, and in this case, loss of innocence and identity.

Trust the process
Grief is a process, much like recovery, it ebs and flows

Grief is something that is experienced on so many levels, as the feeling the feeling of change and loss do not necessarily have to correspond with what we conceive to be a negative belief. Below is a list of the various forms of grief that an individual may experience within their lifetime (James & Friedman, 2009).

Death of a loved one

Death of a pet

Divorce

Marriage

Moving

Starting School

Death of a former spouse

Graduation

End of an addiction

Major health changes

Start of a new job

Retirement

Financial Changes – positive or negative

Holidays

Legal Problems

Empty Nest

The list goes on and on, in that most major loss evens in life do not have to be associated with death, there is loss of trust, loss of safety, loss of control, and several conflicting ideas and feelings come within a grieving process.

In terms of Eating Disorder Recovery, much of the process seems rocky, tumultuous, incredibly challenging and at times, unbearable. So much of this struggle has to do with the grieving process; our minds and bodies are reacting in response to grief! Below is a list on the various factors that trigger a sense of loss and grieving within Eating Disorder Recovery.

Loss of what you perceived your body to be

Loss of perceived control over your body

Loss of perceived control over your food

Loss of perceived control over your physical activity

Loss of a toxic relationship with food

Loss of the perception of what is healthy

Loss of the perception of what is perfection

Loss of the body that has been desired

Loss of the body that was controlled by ED

Loss of the safety within ED

Loss of a toxic relationship

Loss of identity

This list just touches the surface of the overall grief process involved in ED recovery. Our perception of grief as a society is incredibly black and white, and in reality grief is completely grey. Eating Disorder Recovery has so much to do with loss and grief, and you can’t truly move through the process of recovery without bringing awareness towards your grief reactions and grief process.

Therefore self-awareness is crucial to this overall process in order to safely and successfully move through recovery. Once self-awareness is implemented, compassion is incredibly important, in that compassion towards the mind and body will help you move through the grieving process. This is where self care comes into play, surprise surprise! To live a life without ED is living a life full of self-love, body positive thoughts and behaviors, and forming healthy bonds with the mind, body and other relationships through self-care, self care, self care!

So as we move into this weekend, I ask you to bring some self awareness to your grieving process within your own life and ED Recovery, be easy on yourself, and allow for compassion and self care!

Trust the Process

 

Awareness in Body Checking: Taking One More Step Towards Living a Body Positive Life

As another extension to my body positive series, today’s post is about body checking. Body checking is a very common behavior within individuals with Eating Disorders. What do I mean by body checking?

Body checking: Constant “checking”, looking, touching, and/or intensely focusing on a body part and/or section or area of your body. The “checking” is fueled by insecurities on how the individual thinks or feels that they look.

My Story: This is something that many individuals struggle with throughout their Eating Disorder. One main form of body checking is involves mirror checking….

It started at the young age of ten, when I went through puberty, every single time I went to use the restroom, whether it was in a public place, school, work, or at home, I would wash my hands, look in the mirror, suck in my stomach, and slightly lift my shirt, to check my belly with my hand in the mirror. Every time I looked at my belly in the mirror I hoped to find some sort of strength, success, and worth. It became so much of a habit that I did not even realize I was doing it. One day my nutritionist advised me to try to not “body check” for just one day, I broke down in tears after the first half of that day, because I never realized how much I actually “checked” my body. Little did I know that every time I lifted up my shirt and grazed my belly with my hands, I lessened my self worth, tore down my self love bit by bit, and further engrained an emotionally dangerous behavior into my life. I was constantly judging myself, comparing my self worth to that of what I “wanted” it to be at that time.

The difficult thing about healthy body image is that it does come last within ED recovery. Therefore individuals within ED recovery are usually done with, or working towards, finalizing their treatment before they even graze the surface of their physical and emotional self worth, before they learn about how to develop a healthy and positive body image. Having an emotional behavior such as thinking and feeling poorly about one’s body is not immediately detrimental to an individual’s health like that of using other ED behaviors, such a,s binging, purging or restricting, therefore behaviors ,such as, Body checking often go unnoticed and untreated, but it does effect functioning and an individual’s overall self-worth, therefore it is worth addressing and treating!

Body checking is a behavior, therefore a habit that can be deeply engrained within an individual’s functioning, and can be very difficult and scary, leaving and individual feeling vulnerable. Starting slow is the safest way to go about eventually ridding of body checking…

The first step is awareness and acceptance. The second step is slowly acknowledging your feelings while practicing this behavior. This is the safest way to approach to an emotional behavior, such as body checking. The third step is slowly, and safely eliminating the behavior from your everyday functioning, therefore taking it one-step at a time. If you ever feel too vulnerable, reach out to your closest support, go to your comfort box, and practice self-care, self-care, self-care!

As you acknowledge your body checking behaviors, I also challenge you to find a positive emotional behavior that you practice on a daily basis, for instance, the joy that brewing your morning coffee brings, listening to your favorite music, cuddling with a loved one, warming up by the fire place, lighting your favorite candle, any healthy behavior that make you feel your best! Please reach out if you have any questions or comments, don’t forget to subscribe, have a wonderful weekend, and self care it out my friends!

Find your Flow and Growth within 2017

Happy Day to everyone!! 2017, I have positive, healthy and manageable expectations for you!…..oh my….even I rolled my eyes while writing that!

What I mean is that, as we move into this new year, I remind myself, and others, that a specific day and number do not dictate the outcome for the next 365 days of life! Instead, our thoughts, words, and actions affect the present and future, therefore having healthy expectations about this “new year” is incredibly helpful to our happiness, because, yes, we will set out a new plan and goals for ourselves, but we will have ourselves to thank for bringing any change to our current life flow.

I use the word expectation fairly often within my blog posts, and I do this because expectations can either set us up for success, and reality, or failure and disappointment, therefore when a manageable, and positive expectation is set, only growth can occur…no matter the actual outcome. As you set these expectations for 2017, I encourage you to change your train of thought and consider your current situation. Within your life, are you allowing flow? Are you truly experiencing the present, and flowing through the reality of your individual experiences? In other words, within this New Year, instead of setting expectations consider your flow, allow flow to occur, allow growth to occur.

  

 

 

 

 

 

I have been capturing different photos of water recently, because I find that it is the perfect description of life, of recovery, of growth and flow!

Eating Disorder recovery is not linear, in that it ebbs and FLOWS, there are dips and plateaus and peaks, but every experience is a part of recovery, because no matter what, we learn, and grow. Recovery is not linear, and it does not look or feel the same for everyone, remember this.

I say this, that recovery is not black and white, right or wrong, good or bad, but there are times that I do not apply that to myself. This is a common quality within individuals with eating disorders, we are selfless, we give more than we get, we give more, if not, all of our care and love to others, leaving nothing for ourselves, therefore ending up completely drained. I have been caught up in this spiral many of times, especially recently. I have been giving all of my care, emotional attention and knowledge to others within recovery, or others having a hard time within their lives, so much so, that I have drained myself. Yes, I have been practicing self care, but when I do so, I feel so emotionally drained that I have very little to run off of, in other words at times I feel as though I have been talking the talk….but not walking the walk.

I have felt somewhat of a disconnect from myself and my recovery self….when in reality we can be one! I do not have to put on my “recovery glasses” on to truly delve deep inside the secrets of ED recovery, rather, I need to take a step back, look at myself (literally and figuratively) and find where and what that disconnect is! I need to confront that disconnect, and be honest about it, without shame! I can help others while also helping myself and I can love others while also loving myself. I think a big part of me has been fearful that my readers would doubt MY FLAWS within their own recovery. But in reality, I can also go through those ebbs and flows, when I am in a ditch I can use my strength and knowledge, learn from that low point, pull myself up, and grow in the process of doing so!

I am no perfect picture of Eating Disorder Recovery, as there is not a perfect picture! Therefore, as I move through this new flow, this new process, this new year, I will cherish every moment, as it only allows me to grow, and mend that disconnect that has been lingering for a while now. Instead of setting expectations for this New Year, I will embrace my new flow, my growth with every high point and low point, and heal every wound with intentions, acceptance, recovery, love and care….and I encourage you to do so as well!

Happy New Flow my friends!