In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t published a blog post in about a month. It’s not because I forgot or because I was too busy or because I had writers block- it’s because I’ve been experiencing some major recovery burnout.
Being in recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating, in my opinion, is a full-time job- and as with any full-time job, or any job for that matter, you may get burnt out.
I recently googled “eating disorder recovery burnout” to see what others had written about the topic and do you want to know what popped up? Everything but eating disorder recovery burnout.
This is a topic I haven’t really seen brought up in the recovery community, so I’d like to address it here. I would like to start off this blog post by saying that I am in no way trying to say that everyone who is in recovery will experience this. I would also like to say that I am not here to give you professional advice on how to prevent or aid in helping ease the burnout, because I am not a professional. I am here as more of an encouraging voice to let you know you’re not alone if you feel this way. I also wanted to write this for those of you who haven’t experienced ED recovery- my hope is that this gives you some insight into what it’s like to recover from an ED. But please remember, this is my story. People in recovery may or may not experience burnout and just because you do or don’t experience the burnout doesn’t make your recovery any more or any less valid or worthy.
All recoveries are valid. All ED’s are worthy of healing no matter the circumstances.
At first when I realized I was burnt out in recovery, I started doubting myself and my ability to reach full recovery. How could I be burnt out on something that was giving me my life back? How could I be burnt out on something that was empowering me? How could I be burnt out on something that has changed my life for the better?
It made me question what “burnout” even meant- was that what I was really feeling? So obviously, I did what any millennial would do and I Googled the definition. This is what Google gave me, “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress”
Yep. Ok. That’s what I was feeling.
It’s hard to put into words but, to put it simply, I was feeling mentally worn out. Everything I did related back to recovery in some way, shape, or form. I was so wrapped up with making sure that every aspect of my life revolved around recovery and there’s only so long you can do that until it catches up with you.
I was tired.
I was exhausted.
I was frustrated.
I was confused.
When I sheepishly brought up how I was feeling to both my Dietitian and Therapist, they both wholeheartedly told me that what I was experiencing was completely normal.
When I began recovery I made it my mission to constantly be working towards full recovery. For me, that not only meant working through recovery in real life, but also sharing my experience with an audience online. I made the decision to start this blog and corresponding Instagram account to share my story, and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a big struggle for me to run them lately.
I commend people who can talk about recovery non-stop, 100% of the time, but I am not one of those people. It was especially hard for me during #NEDAwareness week when so many people were writing these beautiful posts about their recovery, but I had zero motivation to post about my recovery. I was so burnt out I could barely muster the effort to piece words together. I ended up posting 3 posts that week, but it wasn’t easy for me- I forced myself to write those Instagram posts because I thought I “had” to. I thought I owed it to my followers and the ED community to speak up and share my experience, despite the fact that I already talk about my ED recovery every other week out of the year and despite the fact I was completely burnt out on both talking and thinking about recovery.
I realize now that sometimes I need to take a break from recovery both in real life and online, and that’s ok. Now, taking a break doesn’t mean reverting back to old behaviors, but it does mean mentally taking a step back from recovery and not making it my main and only priority in life. Obviously I will always be working towards full recovery, but I recognize that sometimes I need to cool my jets and put my focus on other things in order to allow my brain to rest, in turn allowing me to progress further in my recovery.
Constantly working towards something that doesn’t have an expiration date is tough.
There is no set “completion date” where you’ll magically be recovered. There is no “recovery countdown clock” you get when you begin recovery. Full recovery is not predictable, full recovery has an unknown end date. ED’s are NOT easy to recover from and although I am thankful for my recovery each and every day, it doesn’t have to rule my life. Thinking about all the work you have left to do in recovery can be super overwhelming and even defeating- but I have learned that living in the present moment, accepting it as it is and reflecting on the progress I have made, both big and small, has helped subsided the feelings of “when will this be over already?”
I had a conversation with one of my friends, Maddie, recently about how I was feeling and she said something that struck a cord with me. She said that it’s a positive sign that I’m getting tired of recovery because it means that there are other things I can move on to– other things that can take precedence in my life over ED.
At first I saw this burnout as a set back, but now I see it as a step forward. I recognize that ED no longer takes priority in my life like it used to. I can go about my daily life and not worry about the loud, bullying voice in my head and I’m learning to not let recovery run my life either. I’m learning to take a step back if I need it. I’m learning to do what’s best for me and sometimes that means not putting recovery front and center.
I’m not giving up, I’m giving myself a break– allowing other things to fill my life. Because you most certainly cannot pour from an empty cup and this recovery burnout has left my cup bone dry. But, slowly but surely it’s becoming full again.
So, with all that being said, you may see me take a break from posting about recovery both on here and on my Instagram. I may feel called to write about recovery, but I also may feel called to write about my favorite true crime documentaries, favorite YouTube channels, or favorite podcasts, because, believe it or not, I like writing about things outside of recovery 🙂 My ED recovery is a part of my life, but it’s not my WHOLE life. If you have anything non-recovery related you’d like me to write about, let me know here!
That’s all she wrote…
If you’re feeling this way too, please know that you are not alone. I encourage you to address these feelings with your treatment team, they will be able to help you work through and process them. You are not “weak” for feeling this way. You are strong. You are strong because you recognize you need to take a break for a minute. By doing that, you’re caring for yourself. You are doing what is best for you and that is the best thing you can do.
Have something you’d like me to write about? Let me know here!