Question & Answer
I received a question from a long time anorexia sufferer, fearful that lasting damage had been done to her body after 12 years with the disease. A very real fear that I think many can relate to. She asked me what she could expect as far a timeline for recovery.
Here is my response:
One of the most important things I can communicate here is that the body KNOWS how to heal itself. Doesn’t matter if you’re suffering with an eating disorder, or if you’ve been a smoker for 20 years. When the damaging behaviour ceases, when we get out of the way of the natural healing potential of the body by repeating healthy (constructive) behaviours day after day, moment after moment, until they become habit, the body WILL heal itself. Trust in your body’s natural intelligence. This is very important. Our bodies are smarter than we are. You are the result of millions of years of evolution. Your cells are smarter than your conscious mind. Every cell in your body is replaced every two years. That means that in two years from now you will be a 100% different person, physically speaking.
Healing is not glamorous, and it does not happen at the snap of our fingers. Or in landslides. There is no magic pill, or magic treatment. It is an ordinary process. A process that happens in real time. All you need to manage is the current moment. All you need to do is choose right action now, as your inevitable healing is a cumulative sum of each present moment. The present moment is manageable. I would encourage you NOT to look at how far you need to go, or wonder about how long it will take to get there. Doing so frames the problem in such a way that makes it feel overwhelming. Overwhelming is discouraging. Discouraging yourself makes it easier to give up. Instead, realize that framing the problem in that way is JUST A THOUGHT. Thoughts can be changed. Eating disorders specifically, I believe, are a disorder of thoughts. Thoughts become actions. They are very powerful. When the thoughts we think about food, or our bodies, are delusional, obsessive, compulsive, or flat out incorrect, our actions become destructive. We take action against our bodies, instead of in their support. This is self-sabotage.
Instead of looking at how long it's going to take, take solace in this fact: it doesn’t matter from how low down we are starting, EACH step up feels just as good. Healing is a cumulation of these step-ups that feel good. For instance, when the belly bloating subsides, you will feel accomplished. When the inflammation in your glands recedes, you will feel good. When your mind stops being mean to you, you will feel happier. When you stop believing that your body needs to be different than it is naturally, you will feel an enormous relief. Don’t believe that healing will be a struggle, or a battle. It will be a gentle slide into a better life. Filled with many AHA moments and little milestones of accomplishment, that fuel you to continue. The whole process will be magical. Healing will transform you. You WILL heal. It is the natural entropy. Down the line you will look back and appreciate, as I do, that I suffered, because so much wisdom, strength, and tenacity was built in you along the way.
You are the result of the thoughts that you habitually entertain. Your thoughts arise from your beliefs. What you believe about life and about yourself are incredibly important. Never believe that your body won’t heal. Your body is listening to everything that you think. You subconscious mind obeys you. The most important thing I can share with you is this: believe that you will heal. Work on your healing on the level of your thoughts and your beliefs. Actions are secondary. Actions are thoughts that are born. Change the thought and the disordered action will never be born. Do you know what this means? You literally don’t have to work on changing your behaviours.. which I know from experience can feel impossible and discouraging. Work done on the thought level will change your actions.
I have some excellent authors to recommend to you, to help with working with thoughts and beliefs:
Louise Hay: “You can heal your life.” She also has affirmation audio tracks up on YouTube.
Byron Katie: Great for inquiry, she provides simple questions that help to weed out destructive thoughts.
Anodea Judith: “Eastern Body, Western Mind” This is a genius encyclopedia on healing, based around the chakra system of yoga. Just TRY and read this without a breakthrough.
One last thought, because I know this matters a lot, especially in the beginning (but expect to care less as time goes on), recovering does NOT mean you’re going to be fat. My body, from a very vain standpoint, looks better than it ever has, and you have the same potential.