Freaking out when you make the smallest of steps toward recovery? Relax. You are normal. Whenever we, as human beings attempt to make a major shift in our lives–whether for good or bad–there is a period of emotional instability because we are simply engaging in a paradigm shift. For one thing, Our psyche doesn’t like the upset. Our brain, like a well-oiled machine, gets used to operating a certain way and, when we try to do things differently, the machine rebels. Scientifically, we have synapses that are like little highways that connect habits to feelings, to memories. It takes thousands of repetitions for those synapses to solidify. For another, no one realizes that they are sick. For the ED victim, life has ‘been this way’ for long enough (in their head) that they don’t see their behavior as being weird in any way. . . well, maybe a little weird, but not weird enough to merit treatment or change. When someone begins to re-think behaviors and they find they cannot instantly change they come face to face with the seriousness of their illness. Honestly, it is quite frightening to be in that spot, and that much harder to look at the enormity of changes that need to take place.
The following are some suggestions that a parent, a sibling, or a friend can do to be supportive in the recovery process during this critical time. 1. It is of ultimate importance that the person struggling know with certainty, that they are loved unconditionally without judgement. They need to be told often. 2. People with ED have a hard time breaking goals down. They feel a need to ‘eat the whole elephant’ at once. If they are willing to confide in you, help them understand the definition of a baby step toward success, then congratulate them with the minutest success. 3. Assure them that small, tiny steps are the way to go. Master one for a period of time before going to the next minute level. Step by small step recovery will occur….over a seemingly endless period of time.