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  • Dina Cohen

ED Recovery During COVID-19

I don't think there are any rules for what happens during a pandemic. It is not something any of us could have prepared for, and there's no judgement about what happens during one.

I can't tell you what happens with your recovery now.

I can't tell you that virtual meetings with your team are the same as meeting in person.

I can't tell you that living in lockdown on your own, or with difficult family members, is particularly conducive to ED recovery.

I can't tell you that a lack of structure is beneficial.

I can't tell you that feeling completely overwhelmed is motivating.

I can't tell you that being out of a job is energizing.

I can't tell you that financial concerns make things less complicated.

I can't tell you that having increased anxiety is helpful.

I can't tell you that living with illness, pain, or loss makes recovery any easier.

And obviously, I can't tell you when all of this will be over, or what things will look like when it is.

But what I can tell you is this:

Your eating disorder will surely try and seize this scary situation as an indication that you need your behaviors back, or that you need to hang onto them now more than ever.

It might insist that there's no way you can handle this without using your ED.

It might tell you that, at the very least, you should put recovery on pause right now.

It might say that no one would expect you to move forward in your recovery with everything that's going on.

It might sound comforting in its reassurances that although things feel so out of control, you need not worry because it, the ED, is reliable and always there for you.

The ED's words might seem familiar, and that's because you've heard them before, probably many times. It's a soundtrack you may have heard before or during major life events, such as graduating, starting a career, getting married, moving, getting pregnant, or becoming a parent. You may have heard it during stressful times such as a loved one's illness, relationship struggles, or losing a job. Other events like a friend moving away, a sibling getting married, conflict with a co-worker, or a spouse working longer hours can all trigger the ED's insistence that you pause recovery or return to old behaviors.

I can tell you that an ED is predictable.

I can tell you that your ED can make you feel like you don't have a choice.

I can tell you that its promises are hollow, because ED behaviors may numb you from reality but they can never solve your problems.

I can tell you that an ED can rob you of your opportunity to develop healthy ways to cope, ways that bring you closer to your goals in life instead of further away.

I can tell you that you do, in fact, have a choice.

You don't choose to have an ED, but you can choose to do the things that support recovery.

You can choose to keep reading and listening to helpful resources and stay in contact with helpful people.

You can choose to acknowledge that recovery might look different now, because of the circumstances.

You can choose to push yourself to do whatever is possible to keep going in your recovery, even if you can only commit to small steps right now.

You can stay aware that the DIRECTION you take now is the most important thing, even if recovery manifests differently than it would during normal circumstances.

You can remain mindful that your war is a silent war, that others might not see your efforts but what's essential is that you know you are making them.

You can remember that you are someone who has done hard things and can continue to do them.

You can choose to ignore the ED when it tells you you aren't good enough without it.

You can prove the ED wrong.

Rooting for you in lockdown,


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