Today I will talk about relapse in recovery. Why it happens and how to get over it. I am speaking from my own experience and giving you my No. 1 tip that worked for me!
Las week I got an email from a girl who has been in semi-recovery for 2 years now. Here is what she wrote:
“I have been in semi-recovery for about 2 years and was very sick for about 8 years before that. I am now almost 21 and became anorexic when I was 11, then bulimic when I was 15. Since beginning recovery 2 years ago I will go a few weeks eating 2000-2500, and then have a slip with binging and purging, which usually leads to guilt and a few days or weeks of restricting/trying to lose weight, then getting back up and trying to recover again./–/ I am extremely scared to just give in to ALL my hunger cues because I feel that I would never stop eating and would gain so much weight and be unable to live with myself or the guilt.”
Semi-recovery means that you maybe want to recover and take some positive steps towards it like try to eat more calories, try to stop compensating and so forth, but you still continue to engage in some sort of restrictive habits. You are still not following recovery full on, rather do it when you can and if it becomes too hard you relapse!
Unless you stop all restrictive habits you cannot recover! When you do not stop relapsing, you cannot get better!
Firstly, I want to say that this is a very normal/common to have relapses in recovery, I had it too, but you have to learn how to stop doing it since it’s only an endless cycle which will not lead to full recovery!
This is not the first time someone writes to me with this type of problem. I have got many messages like this when someone tells me that they have been in recovery for a year or more but nothing is changing and they do not understand why.
Then I ask them what is their eating pattern and do they often relapse and so forth. Then, of course, they tell me that yes, they have been purging, still overexercising, still restricting every time they gain some weight and so on and on. But this is not even recovery, this is still eating disorder!
Learn from the relapse to overcome this vicious cycle!
Of course, even in recovery you can relapse and I did too but it is SO important to LEARN from the relapse and never do the things again that made you relapse. Until you do not learn, you cannot get past this stage.
So, this brings me to the point of how I managed to stop relapsing and continued with recovery no matter what. This led me to now being fully recovered. So what was this thing that helped me?
I finally realised that relapsing, going back to restriction, or trying to control my weight or eating does not lead me to a happier place, it does not lead to full recovery! It is only keeping me stuck! I had already tried every kind of way to restrict and control, thousands of times, but it NEVER worked. Diets do not work and restriction does not work!
Maybe you have heard the definition of Insanity?
“The definition of insanity is doing one thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein
It’s the perfect example of people who are on constant diets, constantly trying to restrict and deprive and control. But they eventually binge out, eat whatever foods they restricted and gain the weight back!
But the thing is that they do not learn from it, they continue this same cycle over and over and over again, hundreds of times, until their body does not function properly, their hormones are out of wack, their metabolism is slow, they are obsessed with foods and some end up with a full-blown eating disorder. But they STILL continue doing it – this is the definition of insanity!
So, in my recovery, I realised that I cannot continue to relapse for hundreds of times and think the outcome of this will be any different than the last hundred times! I knew I will binge anyway, later on, and I will gain weight, feel bloated and more miserable in the long run.
Restriction and diets will never result in health! Eating disorder will NEVER result in health!
Is there anything better than full recovery?
So every time I was triggered to relapse, I asked myself: “Why is relapsing better than to continue with recovery?” And I could not answer because I knew that relapsing is only temporary relief with long lasting consequences. So there was no better solution, I had simply tried everything else! But I knew that when I chose recovery, at least, I have a CHANCE of getting better!
I simply did not see relapsing as a better choice anymore because I finally woke up! I woke up from the dieting/restricting illusion. I knew that relapsing will only make things worse, not better.
So every time I wanted to relapse I asked myself: “Is there anything better than full recovery?” The answer was clear “NO!“, every time. So this kept me from relapsing and eventually my knowledge and trust in recovery became stronger and stronger until there was no chance for me to relapse anymore. I knew that relapsing does not work but, instead, recovery can save me. And it did!
Yes, relapses happen in recovery, you are just a human being! It takes some trial and error but you have to learn from it. Do not be the insane person who makes the same mistake over and over again and expects anything to change! It will not change! If you want to get out of this trap of insanity, you have to do something differently, this time. This is how you can get past to the next stage, that is how you have a chance of achieving full recovery!