I’ve already had the great opportunity to speak with several women about their recovery from eating disorders and emotional eating (you can find the interviews here). I hope to regularly feature Q&As with individuals who’ve recovered from eating disorders, binge eating, negative body image or any kind of disordered eating. If you’d like to share your story of recovery, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at mtartakovsky@gmail.com.

Here’s Part 2 of my interview with Becky Oot about her recovery from an eating disorder. You can read Part 1 here if you haven’t yet. Both interviews are incredibly inspiring whether you’re suffering from an eating disorder, poor body image, eating issues or something else related. I love Becky’s outlook on her recovery, health and life, in general.

5. What were the toughest parts of your recovery and how did you get through them?

I think some of the hardest parts were when I had began eating normally again and my friends and family stopped paying attention. When I was sick (and at the beginning of recovery) my friends would watch me like a hawk when I ate (and when I was finished).  When they figured that I was “okay,” I struggled with the temptations of indulging my ED behaviors.  In recovery I learned that I was going to be on my own with these temptations for the rest of my life and it was up to ME to make the choice to stay healthy.

I also struggled a lot at my grad school job (at a bar), which was a very triggering place.  Not only was I surrounded by terrible (albeit delicious) food all day, but everyone drank a TON after shifts.  It was a very unhealthy place for me to be, but I had few employment options while in school full time, so I had to stick it out.  It wasn’t until I finally quit that I truly got well again.

6. Do you still struggle with eating disordered thoughts and behaviors? If so, how do you overcome them?

Absolutely.  There is no “cure” for an eating disorder.  Successful recovery is about making the choice every day to be healthy and about understanding your triggers and finding ways to deal with them constructively.  There are definitely days when I struggle.  If I’ve had a big meal and feel very full and sluggish (feeling full is a big trigger of mine), if I skip the gym for a few days, if I’m stressed or emotionally drained—all of these are times when I struggle.

Overcoming triggers and hard times requires practice and patience.  When I’m feeling really full, I’ll do some stretching or take a short walk.  If I’m feeling emotional or stressed, I take baths or tune out in front of the TV with a glass of wine.  Sometimes even a quick run or a bike ride helps, too.  You have to learn what works for YOU.  The key for all eating disordered people is to be good to ourselves.  We need to give ourselves a break, take time to relax and breathe.  For me, the hardest part of recovery has been to ease up on myself.  To find balance in all aspects of my life:  food, fun, work, family, and friends.  There are plenty of days when it would be really easy to just binge and walk into the bathroom and throw up.  But when I think about the reasons that I chose to get better in the first place, it makes the idea of giving in to eating disordered behaviors a lot less appealing.

7. What are some misconceptions about eating disorders?

*That it isn’t a valid medical condition.  I’m infuriated when I see insurance companies refusing to cover treatment for eating disorders.

* People who have eating disorders are always skinny.  Not true.  There are so many kinds of eating disorders that it is almost impossible to diagnose a person just by looking at them.

*Eating disorders are about food. Again, not true.  The eating disorder is just a symptom of much deeper, complex issues.

8. Many people don’t realize the physical consequences of eating disorders, including electrolyte imbalances, irregular heartbeat, osteoporosis, severe tooth decay and digestive problems. Did you experience any health problems as a result of your eating disorder?

I had the WORST heartburn for years and years (even after I was finished with recovery) from all of the throwing up.  I also have some super fun chronic GI issues that I am sure have something to do with all of the abuse I put my body through.  I am very lucky, though.  I have been able to manage most of my residual ED health issues through diet, exercise and regular blood work.  When I look back, I am very present to the fact that I could have died at any moment.  At the worst of my ED, I was throwing up 30 plus times a day.  My heart was under such stress that I could have had a heart attack any minute.  I don’t think people realize how serious the risks are. I am very, very lucky that I made it through with only a few minor issues.

9. What can family members do to help a loved one with an eating disorder?

Helping a loved one can be tricky.  Have you ever seen the show Intervention?  You never know how people who need help will react.  I would always recommend that family members do some research before making any kind of assumptions and/or accusations.  Eating disorders are tricky and can be hard for loved ones to understand.  There are plenty of resources available online and in books to help family members talk to loved ones about an eating disorder, if they choose to do so.

Keep in mind that every person is different and may require a different approach.  I, personally, needed tough love.  But someone else may not.  I would also recommend enlisting the help of a therapist who specializes in eating disorders to help the family understand the disease and find ways to not only help their loved one, but find ways of coping for themselves.

10. Any specific resources that helped you through your recovery (websites, books)?

www.something-fishy.org is a great website for those who have eating disorders and need support, as well as family members and loved ones of those with eating disorders.  I used this site regularly for information and support throughout my recovery.  The site also has a treatment finder, resource listings and a wealth of other information about eating disorders.

I also read a lot.  Here are some of my picks:  A Very Hungry Girl, by Jessica Weiner, Wasted, by Marya Hornbacher (I recommend this more for family members and not as much for people with eating disorders, as parts of it can be very triggering) {MT: So glad Becky mentioned this. I agree that while Wasted is a powerful, revealing read, it can be incredibly triggering}.  I also read The Road Less Traveled, by Scott Peck, which really inspired me to give therapy a shot.

11. Anything else you’d like readers to know about eating disorders?

That they can affect anyone, anywhere.  Eating disorders don’t discriminate based on age, race, national origin, gender, or any other demographic data.  They occur everywhere, and in some places, at startling high rates.  This is not national issue anymore, it is a global issue.

Recovery is hard and can take a long time.  But you are worth it.  I learned more about myself from having an eating disorder and recovering from it than I did in all my years of formal education combined.

Thank you Becky, so much, for sharing your story! I also want to thank every woman who’s shared her story with us. It takes courage. I know it isn’t easy to talk about one’s struggles or to go back to that dark place while answering these questions. All of your stories mean so much to me and to readers of Weightless.

I hope everyone has a great Friday and a fun weekend!

 


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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (January 8, 2010)






    Last reviewed: 8 Jan 2010

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Q&A on Eating Disorder Recovery with Reader Becky, Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/01/qa-on-eating-disorder-recovery-with-reader-becky-part-2/

 

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