"There is ALWAYS Hope!" A Message From Someone Who Hit a Little Bump in The Road

Mistakes during recovery usually aren't mistakes at all—they're all a part of moving forward! (via Flickr: elycefeliz)

There were a few times during my recovery from binge eating disorder when I thought, “Hey, maybe I’m all better!”…and then found myself a week or a month later driven to binge. At first, I felt like I was failing, and had guilt about the little bumps in the road. But eventually, I came to believe that those little relapses were all a natural part of getting better for me. It was three steps forward, one step back sometimes, and that was OK. So, when I got a note from long-time HealthyGirl reader/contributor Trish saying she had relapsed, I totally understood where she was coming from. I invited her to share what happened with you all today. Thanks Trish! xo…Sunny

As most of you HealthyGirls know, the “path” to recovery is not a straight and short one.  In fact, it shouldn’t even be called a “path”…it should be called a 6-lane freeway—and I’m on a bicycle. And just when you feel like you’re ready to exit, life throws you another curveball and you end up on an unpaved mountain road without a map.

I’ve been on this journey for a while now. I started my recovery with HealthyGirl about a year and a half ago. I was prepared for the occasional setback and I got through the first few with minor scratches…and just as I thought I was really reaching the point where I could accept myself and really move on from binge eating, I hit a wall. Hard.  It totally came out of nowhere—it felt like I woke up one morning, and my mindset was set back a whole year.

I was looking at myself in the mirror and all I could see were my flaws. My hips were too wide, I was growing a double chin, and where the hell did this flab on my arms come from?! My mind started racing. What had I eaten in the last three weeks? I went over every takeout meal and every restaurant dinner date, berating myself for the awful choices I made all those nights. I literally added up the minutes I had spent on the treadmill with a calculator all the while telling myself, “You’re not working hard enough” and “You’re failing yet again.” I felt guilty, ashamed and most of all, depressed.

It was the depression that killed me. It spread its tentacles out into every aspect of my life—my relationship, my schoolwork, exercising, friendships, and any and everything that takes a little motivation. My grades slipped—I had the worst semester in law school thus far. So, on top of convincing myself that I was failing eater, I convinced myself I was a failure as a lawyer. And girlfriend. And daughter. And the list goes on and on…

You all know what depression can do to a binge eater. In my head I was screaming for help while shoving mini-marshmallows down my throat so fast I could barely breath. I gained more weight. Then finally, one night, I snapped—I craved food so bad I started to shake, and I knew if I didn’t reach out to someone for help immediately I could do irreversible damage to myself. I called my doctor and spilled the beans about how I’d been feeling that last month. He told me he was going to do everything he can to help—and I believed him. I also shot Sunny an email after I got off the phone…she was a lifesaver. I went to bed that night and slept a full eight hours for the first time in weeks.

Once I moved past this huge, insane, wild bump in the road, I looked back and tried to figure out why I took it so hard…and I still haven’t figured it out. But what I learned was that there may not always be a clear trigger, and that’s okay. Now that I’ve gotten through this, I’ll at least be able to recognize it the next time (I’m not crazy enough to think it won’t happen again) and hopefully stop it before it takes a toll on everything else in my life.

The number one thing I learned, though, was not to be afraid to reach out for help—or you will only doing yourself harm. Have a network of people that you trust and can reach out for easily, sometimes you need someone else to give you a clear perspective, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Do what needs to be done to help yourself—this is one of those times when being selfish is perfectly okay.  And when you really feel like there’s no end in sight and you don’t have an ounce of hope left in your body, bookmark this post and read this sentence: there is ALWAYS hope.  Keep your heads up! —Trish

Hey, it’s Sunny again. You can read more about how I and others rebounded from “slips” and temporary setbacks here and here. I just want to add one more thing: The key to getting through the ups and downs, I think, is always moving forward. I started my recovery by reading books (there weren’t blogs back then!), then I did therapy, and finally, a support group. If I hadn’t continued to move forward and try new recovery tools, I may have gotten stuck in a cycle of relapse.

Now, have any of you had lots of ups and downs while getting sane about food? How did you get through them?

11 Responses to "There is ALWAYS Hope!" A Message From Someone Who Hit a Little Bump in The Road

  1. Katie says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I am in the middle of what feels like a relapse right now and I am really struggling with bad body thoughts and guilt from binging. I feel so far away from the progress I was making with healing. It helps to know that you have been thru this and that it is not permanent.

    • Sunny says:

      Hi Katie–You can make it through. When I’d hit a rough spot (sometimes after wallowing a bit) I would reapply myself to the tools that were helping me in the first place. I’d read more, journal more, maybe go to an extra support meeting. Don’t give up! xo…Sunny

  2. Polona says:

    I love this post. :) I just wanted to add, that we shouldn`t be afraid of relapses. They are a part of recovery, a part of life and a tool to learn something new about ourselves. All sorts of relapses will always be a part of our lives. We just have to belive, that it`s OK to feel lost, tired, sad, afraid, depressed … just feel those feelings and trust yourself that eventually they will go away.

    I get a relapse everytime I occupy myself with too much stuff for work and school, when i don`t sleep enough, when i take time for everyone and everything, but myself. Relapse is like a reminder for me to slow down, breathe, take some time off, try something new, make some simple changes …

    And if we take a closer look, we can always find some little victories. It`s just a matter of perspecitve we have on ourselves.

    thank you Sunny & Trish :)

    Polona

    • Sunny says:

      Yes, I agree that “slips” or relapses can be really informative. Our diseases can actually be seen as a direct line of communication from our bodies to our minds/souls. Thanks for bringing that up, Polona. xo…Sunny

  3. So true! There is always hope, even when we can’t find it ourselves. I can totally relate to the grips of depression that you experienced. It has affected every aspect of my life. Things I used to enjoy doing, just didn’t seem to matter anymore. I knew there was a problem when I couldn’t even find the strength to get out of bed in the morning. Thankfully, with the help of my doctor, I’ve been taking Wellbutrin and the dark haze is beginning to lift.

  4. Heather says:

    I find it a bit discouraging to use the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘lapse or relapse’. I think it is far more healthy to talk in terms of moving forwards and moving on from disordered eating. Sometimes we have days we take a step back or don’t go anywhere for a while, but we are still in the process of living our lives. Life doesn’t go on hold just because we do.

    • Trish says:

      Heather, I see your point…but what would you call those times where you aren’t moving forward, but instead are reverting back to your old ways of eating? For me, putting my issues in terms like “recovery” and “relapse” helps me to remember that this is a disorder, and prevents me from blaming myself once I get back into a better mindset.

  5. […] big or small, on their journey to getting sane about food. (Need proof? Check out Trish’s latest post, this Q&A with reader Carly, and this Q&A with reader Jessica.) But it sounds to me like […]

  6. nina917 says:

    I completely believe that there are no mistakes and each “slip” teaches us something new and brings us closer to our own path in recovery.
    I had MANY relapses during my 10 years battle and I believe that each one of them has brought me to the 4 years of full recovery that I have now.

  7. Nina says:

    I completely believe that there are no mistakes and each “slip” teaches us something new and brings us closer to our own path in recovery.
    I had so MANY relapses during my 10 years battle and I believe that each one of them has brought me to the 4 years of full recovery that I have now.
    I recently wrote a post about this topic exactly – that there is no going back in recovery. Every small action is a step forward even when it feels like we are failing.
    I love this quote:
    Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.
    Victor Kiam

  8. Tavierney says:

    Hey There, i am new to this site and can i say that i LOVE what i am seeing. i have had BED for 8 years now and i have been struggling with recovery for about 5. It has only been in the past year or so that my recovery is finally taking the spot as my number one priority. Even in the past 3 months my mindsed has shifted dramatically away from the crazy dieting mentality to a focus more on balance and spiritual well-being. i have learned to forgive myself more and not make it all about the number on the scale. nonetheless, it is a hard road as all of you know. last week i was feeling stronger than ever then BOOM, the perfect storm and i fell so fast into bingeing i didnt know what hit me. but after only 4 days (that is a VERY short relapse for me) i finally decided to turn it over to whatever my higher power is (not sure what that is yet) and pray. i stopped trying to fast my way out of it and decided to focus on the present moment at hand. 4 days back into recovery focus and feeling good. i am so excited to use this site as a part of my recoery THANK YOU!!!

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.