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I completely understand why the mantra “one day at a time” is so helpful to people recovering from a variety of addictions, whether it be an eating disorder, alcoholism, self-harm, or drug addiction. For some people it is important to take recovery one baby step at a time, because otherwise the whole process can feel very overwhelming and discouraging. For me, however, taking recovery one day at a time rather than looking at the bigger picture has never given me the strength and motivation to resist my eating disorder urges.
Similar to many other people recovering from eating disorders, I struggle with depression.
Depression sucks the joy out of my life so that many days feel exhausting and monotonous. When I don’t want to drag myself out of bed in the morning because I feel like the day is going to be just as miserable as yesterday and the day before yesterday, I have no motivation to go through the hard work and stress of forcing myself to eating three meals a day and going to battle with my eating disorder.
I need a more future-oriented approach that gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow.
The approach that works for me in my recovery is to focus on the reasons why I need to recover in order to lead the kind of life I want for myself. When I made a list of my reasons for recovery in the first treatment program I attended, my entire outlook on recovery was transformed. Suddenly, I wasn’t stuck thinking about the unpleasant present moment – I had something in the future to look forward to: a meaningful, rewarding life where mental illness would not hold me back from accomplishing my dreams.
For example, one of my major reasons for recovery is so I can make a difference in the world someday as a clinical psychologist. I cannot accomplish this while having an eating disorder, because it is impossible to help others when I cannot even help myself. Every time I am faced with a difficult meal, I tell myself why it is important to get through the meal – because every meal and every snack leads me one step closer to my dreams.
It is so much easier to nourish my mind and body when choosing healthy eating behaviors feels meaningful and purposeful, rather than just one more chore I have to do to make it through the day.
If you are struggling with motivation for recovery, I strongly suggest you pull out a pen and paper right now to make a list of your reasons for recovery. It is really important that you write this list down and not just keep it in your head, because when the eating disorder voice gets very loud and strong it can be hard to remember your reasons for recovery.
If you are so consumed by your eating disorder that it is difficult to see beyond it to how recovery would change your life, start by making a list of what you have lost to your eating disorder. Once you connect with how your eating disorder has made your life harder, it is easier to see how choosing recovery can help you get your life back.
Once you list your reasons for recovery, be sure to keep it somewhere – or in multiple places – where it will most inspire you. For awhile I had a list of my reasons for recovery taped next to my mirror, so I could look at it whenever I felt tempted to body check.
To this day I have a list of my reasons for recovery in my planner, so wherever I go during the day – and wherever I eat – I can discretely look at my list and re-motivate myself.
My list of reasons for recovery is a beacon of hope when life feels meaningless and painful and scary. I hope that focusing on reasons for recovery helps you as well. You deserve to be happy, healthy, and accomplish all of your aspirations in life that are made possible by having a healthy body and mind.
Jessica has a B.A. in Psychology and Women's Studies and is pursuing a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about social justice and hopes to make a difference in the lives of others and advocate for social change. Having recovered from an eating disorder, Jessica is committed to spreading the word that freedom from eating disorders is possible. Through her writing at Libero, Jessica hopes to empower those struggling with eating disorders to fight for the health and happiness that they deserve.
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.