Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Needs in recovery

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.


Kim said...

Wow, great post! I completely agree with everything she has to say about recovery...

Anonymous said...

great information ... i like this post.

i really like the comment about making the comment about staying out of your own way during the process of recovery.
i have a great friend who always reminds me that right now i really have no idea what is best for me in terms of my ED and eating - and i think this goes along with that.
i just need to stay out of my own way and hand over the reigns to my treatment team (so much easier said than done)

I Hate to Weight said...

Great post, indeed. it really says it all. hope lots of people read it. very, very helpful.

my psychiatrist once told me she had absolute faith that i could stop drinking and, perhaps coincidentally, right after that, i did.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow...I LOVED this post, and agreed with every single point she made. Esp the part abt needing ppl to celebrate my every triumphs.

I also needed ppl to hit me with concrete cold hard facts when I was sliding to wake me up!

And I also needed ppl to leave me alone at times so that I start to recover for MYSELF, and not anyone else.

Tiptoe said...

I'm glad others have appreciated this post. I just found a lot of great insights in this book and really wanted to share them.

Sarah, I hope you are able to give some of the reigns to your treatment team. It's hard, but can be helpful and almost relieving too.

IHTW, that's great your psychiatrist said how much faith she had in you. Subconciously, if nothing else, it is helpful.

Burpandslurp, great additions. I agree that we need people to also tell us when we are hitting troubled waters. And yes, recovery in the end, does need to be for ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I love this. I keep re-reading it. Her TED speech was so fascinating, and I saw her book in Barnes & Noble about a month ago and I can't wait to get it.

These all really are applicable, to ED, and I think to mental illness in general. Depression, etc.

It's frustrating for me because my family doesn't know about my struggles, they outright said (well, my mom said) they don't want to hear about it. And my friends/co-workers/acquaintances who know well... they have their own lives to put first. So I read this list and I think, wow it would be so nice to have people in my life who were on board with this, and maybe I'd actually recover... instead of being chronically high-functioning. arg!

But I am definitely going to write down that last quote, "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." and put it EVERYWHERE for me too be reminded.

Louise said...

Were you ever a member of ASE-D?
It's dead and I'm looking for alternatives?

Trixie said...

I stumbled across your blog and wondering if you can help..trying to find a life coach that specializes in disordered eating. Know anyone? If so,can you email me?

Tiptoe said...

700stories, I totally get where you are coming from. It can be difficult when those around you are not on board with recovery as you are. I think even if you have one ally, it can make a big difference. I hope you will one day be able to find the support you need.

Definitely keep reminding yourself of that last quote.

Louise, ASE-D, is that the alt support group? I was a member of that but not an active one. I know of others who were on there more frequently.

Other alternatives are possibly something-fishy or maybe some of the yahoo groups support lists. Karen Koenig has one as well. I haven't kept up with much other than that.

Trixie, since there is no e-mail for you, I'll go ahead and post here. You may want to try Andrea Owen. Her blog/website is: http://liveyourideallife.blogspot.com/ She's had personal experience with EDs.

There is Cindy Bitter who I read awhile back is now a life coach. If you google "eating disorders, life coaches," others come up as well. I just don't know much about them, so don't feel comfortable commenting.

Hopefully, you find someone who will be of help. Much luck.

Louise said...

Thank you so much for the info. Something Fishy is excellent but too overwhelming for me. I'll take a look at the Karan Koenig one. Again, thank you for taking the time to reply to my query.


Anonymous said...

That first entry! That is what I have been trying to put into words ever since I started trying to get well. But I'm a fickle case, when I want people to acknowledge the alternative too. They can't win I think :)
Thanks for sharing

Lola x