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  • Sara

Accepting your ED Diagnosis and What to do Next

Updated: Sep 11, 2022

No one wants to be told they have an eating disorder. Even though you may have known for a long time that something is wrong doesn’t mean you will be ready to have someone else tell you that your eating habits are unhealthy and need to change in order to protect your wellbeing. After first being diagnosed, it is important to remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of and a full recovery is possible. In fact, millions of people in the world have eating disorders and have recovered, and you can too.

The first step is to be able to remove any denial. Once you’re able to accept that something is wrong, it becomes easier to move forward with treatment. In this stage, it is also important to confront all of the way in which your ED is holding you back from doing the things you enjoy in life. How has it been preventing you from living your best life?

When you seek treatment, it can be scary at first, but it is a necessary step in your healing journey. A professional team of doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and therapists are all there to help you heal. Many people with eating disorders feel guilt and shame associated with their ED but understanding it at a deeper level can bring you move closer to acceptance. Just like with an addiction to substances, gambling, gaming, etc., no one wakes up one day and decides that they want to start engaging in an unhealthy behavior that will eventually become extremely detrimental to their health. However, there is always an underlying reason to begin on this path, and your therapist can help you understand what that may have been.

From there, you, your therapist, and anyone else in your treatment network can work together to change the mindset associated with the desire to engage in an ED and work through any deep-seated beliefs about self associated with it. Often, core beliefs such as ‘I’m bad,” “I’m not enough,” “I’m not in control,” or other all-or-nothing self-statements are to blame, and your therapist can help you identify any of these that may be present.

Everyone deserves to heal and be happy. Educating yourself about your disorder and the treatment options available is a great way to help you feel more in control and lets you know what to expect. You can also always ask a professional about any questions you may have. Remember, you’re seeking help for a reason. You won’t be expected to have all of the answers or know exactly what to do to heal.

Another important part of recovery is finding coping mechanisms that work for you. Your therapist will help you find ways to cope when you feel like resorting to your old habits. There are ways in which you can reframe negative thought patterns, find healthy replacement behaviors, incorporate mindfulness activities into your everyday life and engage in other interventions proven to help. Talking to someone you trust about how you are feeling without attempting to filter is a great way better understand the reasoning behind why the ED developed in the first place.

Opening up about your feelings can help you identify and rationalize some of the fears you may have as well. Many people are plagued with irrational fears that can be dispelled through open and honest communication. Keeping these fears inside will only amplify them, causing undue stress, anxiety, self-loathing and a host of negative physical symptoms.

Identifying a strong support system and having someone to talk to who you trust is crucial to the healing process. This person (or people) can help you stay accountable for your treatment, provide comfort, and serve as a model of self-confidence and healthy eating habits. This person can also help motivate you to get better. It can be difficult to confide in your support system when you have an ED but doing so can lift a huge internal weight and provide you with someone to turn to whenever you’re feeling weak or in need of a listening ear.

Finding a way to motivate yourself is very helpful when trying to complete treatment as well. You'll likely want to give up at times but focusing on things that help you keep pushing forward, such as being able to play your favorite sport again or reading about eating disorder recovery success stories, can help you keep going. Try visualizing your life in recovery, being able to do all of the things you want to without your ED holding you back. How will life change once you’re there? What will you be able to release once and for all? Whenever you feel like you can’t continue, think about how you’ll feel and what you’ll be able to accomplish in the recovery state.

Life in recovery is so rewarding and the more you remind yourself of all the great things to come the more likely you will be to remain motivated to follow through. You could even keep track of all the positive effects of treatment in a journal for you to read on the days you feel like giving up. Feel free to bring these entries to sessions with your therapist as well if there is anything you want to share along the way.


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