kirsten hunneyball logo

"Relapse in Recovery - How to Bounce Back."

16 July 2021

Have you found yourself in an Eating Disorder relapse, but you don’t know how to deal with it?

Firstly, relapse doesn’t mean you have failed.

Often, we resort back to old behaviour when we become triggered by situations or are needing to face new situations we’ve never dealt with before. Remember that there are new tools and ways you can learn to cope with these things that will bring you the same sense of relief that using the ED behaviours used to bring you.

You can pick yourself up and start again, no matter how bad or how tiny the relapse has been. It starts with making a decision to at least try.

Here are some useful tips that might help you move out of this space of relapse and back on track with your recovery:

1. GET HONEST: The first step is to TELL someone who trust, preferably a person who has known about your journey all along and that will not judge you. If you don’t have a specific person, try posting on an online support group, getting to a support meeting to share or simply getting honest with yourself by writing it down. Try not to tell “half-truths”- say it like it is. Often we try minimize the extent of our relapses in order to not “seem as bad” to people on the outside. However, the more specific you can be in your honesty, the more freedom you will achieve. The more we bring to light, the less darkness we experience.

2. FORGIVE YOURSELF: Let go of what has happened and look at how you are going to take the steps to move through this relapse. What’s done is done and beating yourself up about it is only going to make you feel worse. Take responsibility for your actions, but don’t cripple yourself because of them.

3. REFLECT: Spend some time assessing the events, thoughts, interactions etc. that led up to the relapse so that you can identify what your triggers were. Identify where you are reacting to life with the thought of “I need to control this area of my life / protect myself from this by using the ED.” Identifying triggers helps to recognize them when they arise again so that you can take preventative action next time they show up.

4. KEEP GOING: Don’t give up. No matter how many times you “fall”, the important part is that you pick yourself up again. Remove feelings of self-pity or anger, simply start again.

5. KEEP EATING PROPERLY: It’s vital that you continue your healthy, balanced eating and don’t try to “make up for” or counteract any actions. Just keep on going from where you’re at. Assess your nutritional content and meals with a professional if you’re not sure how to eat properly.

6. CELEBRATE YOUR RECOVERY: Take some time to focus on the growth you have made in your recovery. Know that you can keep growing no matter how far down the line you’ve fallen again. What milestones have you achieved recently?

7. PUT IN THE ACTION: Whatever you need to do to get yourself out of this place, DO it. Do you need to assess your meals? Do you need to remove yourself from a relationship? Do you need a support group or professional help? What do you need to do to support your recovery journey? Do that NO matter what. If you’re struggling to do it – ask for help!

There is no shame in relapse. There is always a way to start fresh, which does not mean that I condone the idea of chronic relapse without consequence, just that I understand the nature of this illness and how challenging it can be to “get it right”.

I hope that this has helped you in the sae way it helped me on my recovery journey.

More articles[..]