I read a great article called 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. It was eye-opening and made me mindful of many of the attributes that I work for. I was pleased to see that I’m headed in the right direction. It made me think back on recovery and how I got where I am. I sometimes wonder how I came out ahead of the crowd and why I’m not making round-after-round in treatment facilities.
I started reflecting on the things that Recovery Strong people do. I have a few friends who are very strong in recovery and hope to be recovered some day. Some others from programs I’ve been in are not as strong. As I look back at the attributes of these people, I thought of some short ideas about what it took for me (and some of these other people) to get “recovery strong”. Here are some things I thought about regarding The Things Recovery Strong People Do:
- They set goals and hold their self accountable to them. People who are focused on getting better and really getting rid of the disorder set goals and have people hold them accountable. This is not fun at times. There were times when I emailed everything I ate to my dietitian EVERY DAY! It was what I had to do to stay accountable to my meal plan. Sometimes we just can’t do it on our own and that’s okay.
- They cut ties from the sick. Some people don’t get better and that is sad. Some people don’t want to get better and they want you to stay sick with them and that is even worse. Recovery is your journey and not for anyone else! The best thing I ever did was cut ties with EVERY SINGLE PERSON who had an eating disorder! I did it for a long period of time and I only focused on me. It was the best part of my recovery. I didn’t have to see everyone’s sob messages on facebook about how hard it is to eat, or their text messages about how they need support. It was all about ME and how I was going to survive on my own. Let’s be honest, some people are downers… and they can bring you down and trigger you. Cutting ties from the sick ones is the best way to ensure that you stay on track. You aren’t letting them down if you focus only on your health. You don’t owe them anything.
- They surround their self with only positive. Everything that came into my life was only positive. It started with posting Operation Beautiful post-its anywhere I could. Every book I read was positive and I did things that made me happy. I worked on my faith and relationship with God and I made sure that negativity was out of my life. I got off of social media, and the news, and I focused on reading only things that would boost my thinking in a positive way: Fun literature, bible study, yoga, positive articles etc.
- They stick to their meal plan – no matter what!!!! This is the hardest, but not impossible. For me – it started with a 30 day challenge, and once I hit that it just never stopped. One day I realized it was my 1 year anniversary of never messing up my meal plan! My meal plan became my road map when things were tough. No matter what, that was not an option to mess up. It was a rule that I was not allowed to touch it.
- They never lie to their treatment team. What’s the purpose of lying to them? If you’re lying then you really don’t want to get better. I pride myself on the fact that I never lied to them. I had no reason. From day one I wanted out of this. Being open and honest will not get you in trouble, it just shows them where you are and how to help you. Honesty is the only way you can get better. Admitting to restricting will not get you sent to the hospital, it only gets you the support you need.
- They admit their actions and take full responsibility. Recovery strong people don’t make excuses. I admitted to everything I did and I owned it. If I skipped meals or over exercised, I said I did it. I admitted that it was wrong and I didn’t try to make excuses. Instead, I tried to figure out why I did it and why it came to that. This path is hard and mistakes will happen – admitting them is the only way to learning. I may have made a mistake by throwing food at my therapist – I admit it… I make no excuses for it… but I did it (I don’t condone throwing food at your therapist – based on my experience it seems they don’t particularly care for it).
- They want to learn and are willing to work. Whether it’s about their self, the eating disorder or the world – it doesn’t really matter – they just want to learn more. They have an openness. If you don’t have an openness, you can’t retain what is coming at you. These people have a willingness to work for recovery. They are willing to go to therapy and do the things their therapist asks and not waste time.
- They hate the eating disorder more than they need it. The people who have been so strong and fighting at the front of the pack have had the eating disorder for so long that they can’t stand it. They have seen the damage and not longer feel the need to keep it. This isn’t a “superficial” hate that sounds good when you say it to people – this is a hate that makes you cry when you talk about it. A hate that stabs you in the pit of your stomach when you think about it. A hate so strong that you know you can no longer survive WITH it.
- They admit when they are struggling or need help. They don’t deny when they are in a tough place or that things are hard. They aren’t afraid to say that they need help and that they can’t do it on their own.
- They have a little bit of fight in them that never seems to go away. Even when things are tough and they are tired there is still some fight. When they are weary and worn down and saying they can’t go on, they still find it somewhere.