While I'm on the subject of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor whom I meant to post about more (I wrote a recovery quote awhile back from her) but never got around to, there is a chapter in her book called "what I needed most" [to recover] I won't write every single one out, but the ones I think most pertinent to eating disorder recovery.
I desperately needed people to treat me as though I would recover completely. This is so true. I think it is important to have people who continually believe in us even when the chips are down, we're in an utterly poor state of malfunctioning, or even when are at a high state of functioning, thinking this may be as good as it gets. I know it has been vital for me to have people like this around me, especially during the times when I think I will never recover.
I needed people to love me--not for the person I had been, but for who I might now become. Even though many eating disorders have a biological basis for development, I think eating disorders will inherently change who you are and how you perceive the world. For some of us, recovery means rediscovering our abilities we may have lost or discontinued. For others it is about discovering new parts of us we never knew we had. Therefore, people need to be patient at the process of recovery. It isn't easy!
I needed those around me to be encouraging. I needed to know that I still had value. I needed to have dreams to work toward. Although it is sometimes hard to look beyond the horizon when depressed, anxious, etc., I do think having motivations to look forward to are important in recovery. It's also important to feel valued, as that can easily become a non-existent feeling when malnourished, depressed, or both.
I had to define my priorities for what I wanted to get back the most and not waste energy on other things. Setting priorities for recovery can be a good thing. Recovery is often frustrating, and sometimes when we put too many things at once on our plate, it gets overwhelming. So I don't look at it as wasting energy on lesser valued priorities, but that they may not be the strongest focus at that point. It doesn't mean to let them go completely, just to set it aside for a moment.
I needed people to celebrate the triumphs I made everyday because my successes, no matter how small, inspired me. Sometimes, this can be difficult for those on the outside of eating disorders. It's like :"so you ate a sandwich." Some may see it as not a big deal, but to others who know how we have struggled, it can be a BIG deal. What's important is to not reach a point of complacency but to further on in your recovery as each thing we conquer can be inspiration for the next goal.
A few things Taylor says were integral to her stroke recovery:
I made the cognitive choice to stay out of my own way during the process of recovery. I found the way she said this interesting. For her it was about trying new things. Some were successful while others were not. Therefore, it was important for her to monitor her self-talk which also meant welcoming support and help from others. In ED recovery, we can easily get discouraged with our hits and misses, so it is vital that we have patience and not denigrate ourselves. I think we can all agree on the aspect of the importance of a support system.
My successful recovery was completely dependent on my ability to break every task down into smaller and simpler steps of action. Most of us have heard this before, but I think it is important to remind ourselves that small and simple is okay. Each success is a building block for a foundation.
And lastly, Taylor says, "I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my experience."
None of these things she's mentioned are rocket science, but they are good reminders for ourselves and others. What are other things you have needed from other people or from yourself in recovery?
Note: *If you haven't read her book, I recommend it. I especially like how she talks about both hemispheres of the brain and their functions. As many of us have "left-brain" tendencies, recovery becomes about being attuned with the "right-brain" side as well. In the end, it means to strive for a more "balanced" brain.