Eating Disorders + Your Hook

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t some point during their recovery journey, almost all of my patients will say that recovery is “one of the hardest things I have ever done.”  It really isn’t easy, at all, which is probably why it can take so long, why there can be so many seemingly “failed” attempts, why it can be hard to admit that you even want it, why you doubt that it’s possible.  When I think of my patients who have moved forwards through recovery with the most ease (not to say it was easy) there’s one thing in common – they all have a “hook.”  

Your hook is something that has to mean so much to you that on the absolute worst days of your eating disorder it’s worth getting back up and trying again for.  It’s different for each person but the common point is that the pursuit of this hook becomes more important than your eating disorder or than the risk of failing at recovery or than the embarrassment around needing to be supported.

For some people it’s wanting a life partner or saving a relationship with a life partner, for some it’s knowing you want to be the absolute best parent for your child or future child, for others it’s chasing your dream career.  When you are truly connected to what it is that you really, really want you inevitably face the reality that you can’t have both that thing and the eating disorder at the same time.  Eating disorders always get in the way of this stuff, so the eating disorder has gotta go!

When you live with an eating disorder the focus becomes so microscopic, whether it’s on thoughts around food, symptoms, your body or anything that you’re eating disorder berates you for.  And from that place, there definitely isn’t a passion or a super strong will to recover.  From that place there are a lot of feelings of “what’s the point” or “I’ll never be able to get rid of these thoughts” or “I don’t need to challenge myself or push myself now, I can do that another day.”  And from that microscopic place you really can’t argue with these points because they seem really true.  In recovery though, we have to zoom way out and take a macroscopic approach, this is where the hook comes in.  When we’re looking at the much bigger picture and we’re connected to a future we are dying to create, suddenly the questions and thoughts are different – things like “I’m feeling triggered, what can I do to keep myself safe” or “I’ve been symptomatic the last few days, what do I need to do differently today” or “is this decision I’m about to make being driven by my eating disorder or is this me speaking” are floating through your head.  The little day to day details become less important because you’re fighting for a much bigger cause and when that’s the game you’re playing your mind is on a different track.  

If you’re in recovery, do you know what you’re fighting for?  If you’re not yet in recovery, do you know what would be worth fighting for?  It’s definitely worth thinking about.

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