Today as I was bicycling through Seville, Spain I was thinking about how grateful I am for Intern Anna for sharing her words of wisdom so I could be relaxing and enjoying touring this fascinating city. Tomorrow as I celebrate my birthday this weekend we head south to the coast of Spain to attempt to find warmer weather…alas it looks like rain but should still be beautiful.

Family caregivers often ask how they might support a loved one who has a slip in recovery. I hope that some of these tips from Intern Anna might help.

Tips from Intern Anna:

Recovery is not linear.

I heard that phrase over and over again from my parents, therapist, etc. throughout recovery.

That was one of the hardest parts about recovering from an eating disorder. Having to learn new eating patterns and trying not to regress into old habits. I didn’t even realize how deeply ingrained these habits were until I started to tear them apart. So, it makes sense that recovery is a process. It’s a process that relies on you making mistakes. Because each time you make a mistake, you either have the choice to stay knocked down or to get back up again.

Mistakes will happen. I wish they wouldn’t because it would be a lot easier if they didn’t. But, they also teach you a lot about yourself. They help you realize you are a lot stronger than you once thought.

I was very perfectionist about my recovery, wanting myself to do everything right the first time. If I slipped, it felt like I had lost everything. I started to realize that that was a cognitive distortion. I was looking at my situation with extremes instead of with proper proportions. Once I realized that being recovered isn’t about being perfect but about finding ways to challenge those eating disorder thoughts, I found that my recovery felt more manageable.

I also really appreciated my parents’ encouragement. Having them cheer me on and see the bigger picture after mistakes helped me to see that they just wanted what was best for me. I know it can be hard to encourage after someone’s had a slip up, but it can help the individual realize that a slip up is not the end.

Tips for getting back on track:

  1. Use affirmations and encouraging words with yourself. This can help increase your confidence and keep you focused on recovery.
  2. Make a list of the reasons why being in recovery is good for you. For me this included being able to have kids one day and being able to spend time with my friends.
  3. Try not to see a slip up as the end. Mistakes happen and forgiving yourself for them will help you get back on track more quickly.
  4. Reward yourself when you have a breakthrough or get through a hard day! Recovery is hard work and it is important that you acknowledge that.
  5. Remember the hard times you have been through before. This will help remind you of your courage and strength.

For more support for caregivers and this topic, visit beckhenry.com.