Hey there! 🙂
So in the last week, I’ve had a couple of people contact me out of the blue about various mental health questions. Because I’ve been very open on this blog and New Crunchy Mom about it, I guess I’ve built a reputation of knowing about these things and honestly I think that is great and I love helping others who struggle like I do/have.
There was one question I got that I thought might be helpful to address here on the blog and that was: Can you recommend any Anorexia recovery groups?
To answer that, in short, no I cannot.
I have tried a few different anorexia recovery groups, most of which were specifically Christian because that was important to me. I wanted to know that the encouragement that I was hoping to get from the groups was going to be bible-based.
After I joined the groups, there were three things that really stuck out to me and gave me some pause for concern.
#1. There was a lot of underlying pro-Ana discussions.
A lot of what I saw going on in these recovery groups was thinly veiled attempts at competition on who had it “worse”, who had lost the most weight, who had been in the most danger, and who was relapsing the worst. There were a lot of numbers thrown out, and pictures, and I honestly felt like it was doing more to encourage an eating disorder rather than to encourage recovery.
#2. There was a lot of people who threw around hurtful phrases.
This was a huge sticking point for me because I am 100% an advocate for MEN who have eating disorders and body image issues (which I realize angers some people and to you I say: bug off) and for women who have eating disorders like Bulimia who sometimes don’t look “anorexic”. The one phrase I heard the most in these groups was, “Oh, you must be doing great, because you don’t ‘look anorexic’!”
This. Is. Not. Okay.
Most of the people in my life who have an eating disorder don’t “look” the part the way most people would expect. A lot of people don’t even realize men can have eating disorders and that the physical attributes of male eating disorders can look like someone who is buff, not someone who is starving. And some eating disorders don’t manifest in thinness due to the body preserving fat storages because it thinks that it is going to starve. Their eating disorders are still valid and saying that they don’t “look anorexic” is only going to encourage them into more unhealthy behaviors, possibly ending in them “looking anorexic” or worse.
#3. For those who are genuinely trying to recover, being surrounded by other people relapsing can be detrimental.
In my own experience, I have found that while it sounds like a good idea to be around a lot of people who struggle with the same thing as you do, it is actually counter-intuitive.
Being in a group where you are constantly being reminded of your past and seeing the threat of a relapse become real to so many other people, it can feel as though it is inevitable for you too and it can make you lose hope. That is in direct opposition to your recovery and you don’t need that.
Here are my recommendations for what to do if you have had the same experience as I did trying to find a recovery group, or just want an alternative.
#1. Surround yourself with healthy people.
I find it very helpful to surround myself with people who have never struggled with an eating disorder or body image issue, or with people who are serious about their recovery and don’t dwell on the past. In my opinion, you cannot move on if you don’t have a picture or model for what healthy body image, eating habits, and moderation with working outs are like. Find people who will eat a meal with you without saying something unintentionally rude about your eating habits (this one is hard for me because I am self-conscious about eating in front of people) and people who will work out with you so you don’t overdo it. You need people who will support your recovery, hold you accountable and randomly check on you. I have these people and when I was in dangerous of relapsing, I strongly believe I avoided it because of them.
#2. Take precautions and prioritize self-care.
There are a lot of things around a normal house that might threaten your recovery if you are in a vulnerable period. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to hide your scale, or if you are in a position (like at the doctor) where you have to be weighed, make sure to weigh backwards so that you can’t see the numbers and let your care provider know that, if it is not necessary for you to know the numbers, you don’t want to know them.
Another thing I recommend is getting rid of mirrors, or if you can’t get rid of them (as is sometimes the case in bathrooms or kitchens), cover them up with a blanket or towel, or tape over them with newspaper or encouraging posters. It can be distressing to see yourself in a mirror during a relapse, and I’ve often felt like I’m looking in a fun house mirror that tells me I’m shorter and heavier than I really am. If you cover them up with encouraging posters with quotes or verses, not only are you avoiding the stress of the mirror but you are also getting the benefits of scripture or uplifting words every time you walk by.
#3. Make a space filled with things for you wish you could tell your younger self.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve come across an article or picture or quote that I wish I could go back and give myself when I first started dealing with anorexia. As time has gone by, I’ve saved these types of things and pinned them to a Pinterest board. When I have a hard time or feel like I am relapsing, I tend to regress a bit in my emotions and ability to cope with stress, so I have been able to go back to everything I have saved on the board and it is almost as if I am taking care of my younger self. It is like a healing balm to be able to say “No, I’m not giving in to this. As I child of God I am too precious to have hurt myself like this and I won’t let it happen again.”
This way, instead of being at the mercy of a support group in which you don’t know if something posted will hurt or help, I have everything tailored to my needs (encouragement that is Christian and doesn’t contain my triggers) and I can access it anytime I need it.
I highly recommend making a Pinterest board like this (psst – Pinterest has the ability to set a board to private so no one can see but you!), or having a file on your computer with things that will help you saved for when times get tough. It has helped me tremendously!
If you have any questions that you want me to answer or a comment you want me to read, please email me at Rebecca@newcrunchymom.com or tweet me at @newcrunchymom on Twitter. 🙂 My comment section is malfunctioning right now so if you do leave a comment, I might not be able to read it.
Love what you see? Join the community!
Sign up for the Rebecca Lemke Newsletter to be in the loop about important announcements and community updates!
Thank you for subscribing!
Something went wrong.