Words by: Zoe Spiers. Follow more of her journey on her Instagram, @boporecoverywarrior.
The issue with today’s generation is that nothing is ever enough.
Your best is never enough. There’s this unspoken rule that you can always do better at work or school – achieve more, cope better, push yourself further, recover quicker, and the list goes on. This mindset is drummed into us: that whatever we do, there’s always more that can be done.
This is exactly how diet culture works too – there’s this promise that if you lose x amount of weight/eat a certain way/exercise x amount/look a certain way, that happiness and success will follow. But the weight loss is never enough, the dress size is never small enough, your diet is never perfect enough and the workout is never tough enough. With perspective and knowledge about diet culture, it’s easy to see how this disordered relationship with food, exercise and our bodies can spiral into an eating disorder – something that is far too common. So it’s no surprise that there’s an eating disorder pandemic at the moment.
Choosing recovery is really hard, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. You start by immersing yourself in the recovery community online – which, don’t get me wrong, can be such a positive, comforting and beautiful community. However, social media is a highlight reel. And this is crucial to remember. Recovery isn’t linear: it’s not always eating cake and laughing with your friends; it’s not suddenly being able to let go of your eating disorder. Recovery can be incredibly messy – it can be breaking down in tears in the middle of the restaurant because of food anxiety; it can be bent over the toilet after a slip up; it can be sitting on the floor numb after a binge.
Recovery is all those good things you see on the highlight reels that the community posts, but it’s also the tears, the pain, uncomfortableness. It’s unlearning everything diet culture taught us, AS WELL as fighting against your own eating disorder. It’s about finding the you – the real you. It’s hard work. But, despite all this, recovery is worth it – in dark times, please remember this.
These highlight reels can be so detrimental to our recovery sometimes, causing us to compare our bad day to another person’s good day. However, the next day the roles may be reversed. It’s this knowledge, that everyone has good and bad days in their recovery journey, that you should use as a reminder to be kind to yourself if you’ve reverted back to a disordered behaviour – to be gentle with yourself. Being kind to yourself doesn’t necessarily mean face masks and bubble baths (although, of course, it can include those too!). It means being the friend your younger self desperately needed; reassuring this vulnerable part of you that you are not a failure; comforting yourself with the knowledge that a step or two backward doesn’t negate the leaps and bounds you have made in your recovery journey.
Don’t punish yourself, for you are unlearning years of diet culture and challenging your own mind. Nobody’s – yes, not even that influencer you admire on social media – journey is linear. Be kind and gentle with yourself, for recovery from an eating disorder can be painful and a rollercoaster of a ride.