When I was sick with anorexia I basically stopped going to the beach. I actually stopped doing most things that brought me pleasure. My body weight was very low at the time, but my eating-disordered mind played tricks on me. I felt too fat to leave the house and putting on a bathing suit was out of the question. I would spend hours staring in a mirror picking apart all of my imperfections. I spent most of that summer inside my house napping or at the gym working out. Isolation took over.
This summer I went to the beach almost every weekend. I started my summer with a glorious trip to Italy and ended my summer at my favorite beach at the Jersey Shore. Going to the beach is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. My nephews call me “the beach bum.” I spent every summer on the jersey shore as a child and now into my adulthood it is an activity that brings me sheer joy.
So how did I get to a summer spent isolated and miserable inside to a summer spent outside with family and friends?
- I WENT TO THE BEACH!
- I PUSHED MYSELF TO GO EVEN WHEN I FELT ANXIOUS OR UNCOMFORTABLE.
- I FORCED MYSELF TO DO PLEASURABLE THINGS EVEN WHEN I HAD DIFFICULTY FEELING PLEASURE.
There are many areas in our lives that we need to work on to recover from anorexia and other eating disorders. Increasing positive emotions by engaging in pleasurable activities is one of these areas. My eating-disordered world got smaller and smaller and fighting back was like climbing a steep mountain with a huge backpack weighing me down. Gradually, by accumulating positive emotions through engaging in pleasurable activities, I started to recover.
DO PLESANT AND POSITIVE THINGS THAT ARE POSSIBLE NOW!!!
Engage in a pleasurable activity at least 1x per day. Schedule it into your planner, just like you do conference calls and class. On those really tough, depressing days act opposite and just do it. When you feel that it is impossible to feel pleasure do it anyway. FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT! If there is nothing that brings you pleasure engage in activities that used to bring you pleasure.
Make a list of 10-15 activities that bring you pleasure. NOW DO ONE OF THOSE EACH DAY. Get a friend or family member to help push you if it is too difficult to push yourself. You are worth it. You deserve it. We can recover one day at a time.