May I just say, recovering from an eating disorder is the worst! In today’s environment, it sometimes feels like everything is triggering in one way or another! For me personally, it can be especially hard being at home.
My family certainly doesn’t mean to make me feel uncomfortable or triggered in any way, but it happens all the time nonetheless. Thankfully, I live in the dorm at my university and will be moving into an apartment of my own after I graduate, but I’ve been spending a fair bit of time with my family since my parents moved from Florida to Tennessee about six months ago. They now live 45 minutes (versus 9+ hours) from my school. My brother and his girlfriend are visiting from China where they are studying to get their master’s degrees, so I feel extra pressure to spend every weekend at home while they’re here.
Triggers at Home
Let me just give you a brief rundown of some common phrases I hear at home:
“Oh my word, I ate so much food I’m not going to eat supper” (my mom after she ate a perfectly normal meal).
“Since we ate a big breakfast we’re only going to have two meals today” (also mom).
“Look, I can buckle my belt one hole further up! I’ve lost weight!” (dad)
“If we eat ice-cream for lunch we can’t eat as many calories for supper” (brother).
These are just words. It’s even harder to watch some behaviors, especially from my mom. She obsesses about healthy eating, skips meals or eats very small portions, and complains when she snacks too much. She obsesses about the way she looks (not so much weight-wise, but in other areas: wrinkles, skin, etc), and often says she looks and feels ugly.
My Family Doesn’t Know
Honestly though, I can’t blame my family for saying these things. None of them know about my eating disorder except my mom (she knows I have an ED, but we never really talk about it). I know they would be supportive if I asked them to stop saying triggering things, but I can’t bring myself to tell them this dark secret about my life.
This isn’t a post to complain about my family. I love them and I know they love me. This post is really to say that recovery is hard and there will always be triggers that tempt you to return to your destructive behaviors—whether from family, friends, media, or something else. Sometimes it’s hard to separate your personal reality from the reality of others’.
Your Reality Is Different
For example, it’s triggering to see my mom eat smaller portions of food. But her reality is different than mine. She has a slower metabolism, doesn’t work out as much, and also doesn’t have an eating disorder. I’m trying to train my body to trust me to feed it enough after months of starving it. I need more food than my mom.
Another example could be media. If you scroll through Instagram and see a model on an advertisement, realize that their reality is nobody’s reality. Those images are often so Photoshopped, the models don’t even look like them in real life. Even if you are tempted to compare your body to someone else’s body on social media (someone who isn’t a model), remember they are posing for a photo. They have positioned their bodies to look as attractive as possible. They’re probably in good light. It’s likely not their true reality. Everyone lies (whether intentionally or unintentionally) on social media.
I know life can be extremely triggering for someone with an eating disorder. But remember that your reality and journey is unique to YOU. No one can argue with, complain about, or compare their journey to your journey—because it’s yours.
Keep your head up, beautiful. You’ve got this and I’m rooting for you.
I’ve spoken to a couple of guest writers who will be posting on ED Heal in the near future! One author used to be a Victoria’s Secret model and has a lot of wisdom to share. Follow ED Heal on Facebook to ensure you don’t miss a single post!
Also, check out some other posts…
Social Media and Eating Disorder Recovery
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Super Hungry at the Super Bowl