When I finally broke down and entered into treatment for anorexia, I was purging regularly. My cycle was to restrict all day and then binge and purge at night. Even though the consequences were clear- the secrecy, the cleaning of cups or vases I would purge into, raging headaches, stomach pains, teary eyes, bloated face- I could not stop. The “opiate-like” high after the purge was too hard to give up. I was addicted to that sense of release and utter calm after my ritual was over.
In treatment I was asked to get an index card and on one side write all of the negative consequences of bingeing and purging and positive consequences of not engaging in the behavior. On the other side I wrote a list of healthy activities that I could engage in INSTEAD of using my eating disorder. I still have my index card in my purse- yes it is frayed and slightly torn- but even after eight years and many different wallets and purses, I have it.
And I use it! And I can happily report that with consistent treatment, use of positive coping skills, incredible support and my untethered hope, my behaviors slowly reduced and eventually stopped. Recovery is hard work. Concrete coping skills are vital to eating disorder recovery whether you struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, compulsive exercise or others.
So what to do now?
- Buy or borrow an index card.
- On one side write down the negative consequences of the eating disorder behavior and the positive consequences of NOT engaging in the behavior.
- On the other side write a list of healthy coping skills to use INSTEAD of the behavior.
- Put in your wallet, backpack or car; take a picture of it on your cell phone; place on your mirror or desk.
- USE IT! LOOK AT IT! PRACTICE!
- Create an index card for all behaviors you are trying to eliminate or decrease.
We can recover one day at a time.