Please Support our Nonprofit Magazine!There has never been a time when our community and content was needed more. As a nonprofit online community and magazine, we provide FREE articles, videos, and other content that is available worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Due to the global pandemic, we’ve had to put events, collaborations and business sponsorships on hold, leaving us to rely exclusively on online donations from our community (aka YOU!) We want to be here to support you all through this pandemic and beyond, which is why we are asking you to consider donating whatever you are able. A single (or monthly) donation of just $5 will make a difference and will help keep our nonprofit running so we can continue supporting you and others.
When I first entered a relapse treatment for my eating disorder I thought mindfulness was merely a new fad. I believed it was a novelty for the self-help world to focus on. To be honest, I hated it. I often thought if I heard the “M” word one more time I was going to scream and act in the complete anti-mindful way.
Learning more about the function of my eating disorder and related behaviours such as self-harm, I began to realize this mindfulness thing might actually hold some power.
I could now recognize my behaviours as maladaptive ways for me to take myself out of the present moment.
Eating Disorders and Mindfulness
My eating disorder has (for a while, unknowingly) served as the primary means for me to disconnect.It took a lot of therapy, convincing, and surrendering to be able to recognize what it was.
The relief I felt from restricting, purging, and self-harm was merely a temporary distraction.
Are you enjoying this article? We are a nonprofit and rely on donations to run our magazine and community. If you are enjoying this article, would you consider making a $2 donation?
It was nothing more than a brilliant technique. It allowed me to avoid feeling the discomfort and pain of the past and the anticipatory anxiety about the future.
The key word in all of this is “temporary”.
After struggling for many years–especially during my first year of graduate school–I could feel myself slipping. I avoided the red flags and pushed through so I could complete school, fearful of what a medical leave would mean and how it would be perceived.
When I finished graduate school in May 2015, I was no longer able to delay the inevitable. The relatively dormant volcano exploded; there was no longer a temporary escape route. I was trapped and forced to deal with the uncomfortable, terrifying, and painful emotions I had been avoiding for 14 years.
Due to traumas, my brain convinced me the present is dangerous and posed a threat.
It felt safer to disconnect from my mind, myself, and others, and I sunk deep into my eating disorder. In hindsight, being so disconnected from present reality can be dangerous. It can be worse than being stuck in the past I cannot change or a future that has not even happened yet. This means I cannot control it.
Mindfulness and staying present are about facing the harsh realization there is no such thing as control.
It is through mindfulness–yes, the once dreaded “M” word–I was able to become more aware of how my thoughts and internal physical sensations dictated the behaviours I was using (whether adaptive or maladaptive). Mindfulness, while no easy task, has enabled me to simply focus on my breath and remind myself of where I am in the present.
I do not focus on my breath as a way to relax, which I think is a common misconception. Rather, I do it to remind myself the present moment is likely more tolerable than my body and mind convince me of.
Although I’ve associated certain physical sensations with a specific trauma, it does not mean every time I fill my body with necessary food I am back in a dangerous place. Breaking these arbitrary, powerful associations I’ve created to protect myself is challenging. It’s still a work in progress.
Related: Yoga and Eating Disorder Recovery
Changing My Relationship With Food in Eating Disorder Recovery
I constantly have to remind myself food does not have morality and therefore cannot be good or evil.
Over a year into my recovery, there are still many times I am immediately taken to irrational thoughts of what food might do to me.
This often happens when I sit down to a meal with a plate of food in front of me which I have deemed as “flex” foods.
If you’re enjoying this article, please donate $2 to support our nonprofit magazine!
Part of mindfulness is taking a deep breath, becoming aware of my surroundings, and reminding myself–dare I say it–food cannot hurt me.
Food does not have that much power, but I have the power to overcome my disordered thoughts.
Meals might present as challenging; they might be difficult to complete. But at this point in my recovery, I know I can finish them. I can sit through the discomfort (sometimes with tears) and hopefully implement more adaptive means of coping.
As I continue down the road of recovery, I hope to implement ways to eradicate any space for my eating disorder.
Increasing mindfulness and tolerance will hopefully help contain the emotional and physical discomfort often accompanied by physical feelings like fullness.
I plan to allow myself to live wholeheartedly in the present moment because it is where life exists.
If you liked this post, pass it on!Mindfulness and Staying Present in Your Battle Click To Tweet
Become a Libero Patron for just $5/month!
As a nonprofit, we want our content to be available free of charge to anyone who needs it. This means we rely on donations to keep our site running so we can continue offering mental health support through our content and community.
If you enjoy our content, please sign up to support us monthly!
Support our nonprofit by shopping from our NEW Giving Shop!
Click Here to visit the shop!