A post on things you shouldn’t say to someone who has/is recovering from an ED.
Also: tips to help in recovery.
Some Things You Really Shouldn’t Say, and Some Things To Keep in Mind:
- “I feel so fat today!” or anything along that ilk. Just don’t start a conversation about weight at all. Some people can brush it off, some people can’t. For me, it’s hit or miss. On good days, I just inwardly roll my eyes. On bad days, I spend an hour staring at the mirror and pinching the fatty parts of my body, warring with the overwhelming need to purge.
- Similarly, don’t start a conversation about how ugly/fat/undesirable/etc you are. This is a huge trend with young adults. It only takes one person making a self-deprecating remark - “Ew, I hate my nose!” - to get everyone else started, too. This doesn’t just affect people with EDs; it invites everyone to talk about things they don’t like about themselves, and nobody needs that.
- Don’t talk about diets. Do I really need to explain this one?
- Related: “I’m going to eat my emotions” “I’m going to eat/drink until I puke” “I HAVE to run this off in the morning!” I shouldn’t have to explain this, either. Again, the way these phrases affect people can vary. However, I’d err on the side of caution.
(Pro tip: not making any of the previously mentioned mistakes doesn’t just help those in recovery. It helps you, too.)
- Keep in mind that this is a mental illness. It’s not something people snap out of, and recovery is a long process. A person can be “recovered” for a year or more before slipping back into their old behaviors. You can’t make them stop, but you can be there for them. You can listen and offer support. Sometimes, that’s all someone needs. Overall, just make sure they know they’re loved.
- Don’t think you can break somebody out of an ED with compliments. You can tell someone they’re pretty all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s not about how you see that person; it’s about how that person sees him/herself.
If You’re Recovering or Want to Start Recovery:
- Talk to somebody. It doesn’t have to be a therapist. Just find somebody you trust to help you through the process, someone positive and attentive. However, if you DO feel comfortable talking to a mental health professional, please do. They can give you the tools you need to help yourself. Keep in mind, however, that they can’t “cure” you - you’re the one rebuilding the house. Counselors and the like are only there to teach you how.
- Figure out your triggers. Evaluate. Is this something you can (and should) avoid? If so, stay away from it. Stay far, far away. While you’re putting eight thousand light years between you and the things that trigger you, ask yourself why these things have such an extreme effect on you. If you know the whys and hows, then you can begin tearing down the things that previously hurt you.
- Every day, think about the things that make you who you are. Think about what you like about yourself. Then, think about things you’d like to change, goals you’d like to reach, things you need to do. How are you going to do all that? Pick one thing at a time. Once you’ve checked one thing off the list, move on to another. This is all about baby steps. Don’t try to take everything on at once, or you’ll get overwhelmed.
- Be patient. There won’t be a magical moment where suddenly everything is better and you’re never triggered again. Nobody likes their body 100% of the time. Just know that the moment will pass. Find a healthy distraction to get you through the rough spots, and soon it’ll get easier. You CAN do this. I promise.
Also know that there are so many places you can go. There are hotlines and support groups and all kinds of good people who have been where you have been and want to help you get through it, too. I wouldn’t say I’m a good person, precisely, but I’m one of those people who wants to help. Anytime, anywhere, if you need to vent, my ask box is open.
Keep strong, friends. I’m thinking of all of you.