The Unicorn Syndrome

This is a repost [with permission] from http://letsrecover.tumblr.com/

Post author: Amalie from http://amalielee.com

“The Unicorn Syndrome” explains the thought patterns people go through in recovery.

(This text is written with a little sarcasm and humour and should not be taken as an offense.)

The Unicorn Syndrome, shortened TUS, is a syndrome, or disillusion, that commonly occurs among people in recovery, whereas the sufferer believes they are different than everybody else in recovery and that general guidelines, explanations, and advice in recovery does not apply to them.

TUS commonly occurs in situations related to weight gain, especially the rapid, unpredictable and uneven one, water retention, extreme hunger and other mental and physical challenges.

Something that is particularly noticeable and special about TUS-sufferers is that they are usually able to give others advice on their recovery problems, yet when the TUS-sufferer experience the exact same problem, the advice does not apply to themselves. The TUS-syndrome is especially visible in the recovery community on social media. The syndrome can result in a ping-pong situation where two TUS-sufferers experience the same recovery challenge, and give each other the same advice, yet are not able to apply the same advice to themselves.

They are usually able to give others advice on their recovery problems, yet when the TUS-sufferer experience the exact same problem, the advice does not apply to themselves.

Let’s take TUS-sufferers John and Jane as examples:

John: ‘’Help! I just started recovery and I have gained 5 kg in a week! I am sure it is all body fat! My stomach looks pregnant, there are imprints in my skin from my clothing, and I feel so puffy and sore. Ugh, my metabolism is broken and I will keep on gaining forever!’’
Jane: ‘’Don’t worry John, your weight gain is mostly water retention and food in your stomach/system. You look pregnant due to bloating and water retention, and your imprints, puffiness and soreness is due to water retention. Your metabolism is not broken, it is temporarily slowed down, the weight gain will stop!’’

…and five minutes later;

Jane: ‘’Ugh, I am gaining so fast, 5 kg in a week, it is all on my stomach and thighs, and I get these weird imprints on my skin. I am sure it is all fat. Right? It is! I have damaged my metabolism, and it will never repair, I’ll keep on gaining into infinite obesity. I feel such discomfort, soreness and my face looks puffy.’’
John: ‘’Calm down Jane, your weight gain is mostly water retention and food in your stomach and system. Water retention also causes puffiness, soreness and imprints in skin – body fat does not do that. It is normal to gain fast, in the beginning, it will slow down, your metabolism is not broken, it will speed up soon.. You look pregnant due to bloating, it will pass.’’

The paradox is that TUS-sufferer communicating with TUS-sufferer like above will actually help the other person with recovering from TUS. The ping-pong effect is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they eventually stop playing ping-pong.

The Unicorn Syndrome can easily be confused with its brother, The Good Samaritan Syndrome (TGSS), whereas the sufferer provides recovery help and inspiring advice to others with the best intentions, yet don’t commit to recovery themselves. A TGSS-sufferer will often write long and inspiring texts on social media about how recovery is worth it, how important it is to challenge yourself and take the plunge, yet the sufferer stays in the same place themselves for an infinite amount of time. A TGSS-sufferer will show a genuine care for others, yet forget to care about themselves, often because they are afraid, not ‘’ready’’ or do not believe they deserve happiness and freedom. TGSS and TUS can co-occur, and one will sometimes cause and strengthen the other.

‘’Shit, I have The Unicorn Syndrome. What do I do now?’’

No worries, it is completely normal to suffer from TUS. As a matter of fact, the majority of people in recovery will suffer from some degree of TUS at some point. Here are some advice on how to recover from it:

The majority of people in recovery will suffer from some degree of TUS at some point.

1. Educate yourself. Reassure yourself. Repeat, repeat, repeat. This is perhaps the most helpful thing you can do. Pin, save or click favorite on helpful articles or pieces of advice that relate to your situation. Every time the TUS-thoughts hit, re-read.

2. Communicate with others in recovery. Especially with those who have recovered.

3. Be patient. TUS will eventually fade. Though disturbing, TUS itself is not dangerous, but the actions it can cause are. As long as you do not act upon the thoughts and disillusions, TUS can not harm you.

4. Relax and distance yourself. This kind of goes against advice 1 and 2, but for some, distancing themselves from the whole topic of recovery may be the best way to deal with it. An awesome way to distance yourself and relax is watching tv series and eating. Reading, knitting, writing, gaming or being social may also help. Eat, relax, trust the process.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.38.54 PMThank you, Amalie, for this great post!

You can follow Amalie on Instagram @amalielee and please see http://letsrecover.tumblr.com/ for more posts like these!

Article cover image from HERE.

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