Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery
by Z Zoccolante, Surviving ED, HealthyPlace
April 6, 2016

There are many triggers in eating disorder recovery. Two common themes for those with eating disorders are a repulsion of fat and negative or distorted body image. Recovery includes adjusting our thoughts and feelings around these two, in spite of eating disorder triggers. It’s important to note, however, that no two people recover exactly the same way. Last week we talked about weight gain during recovery and viewing ourselves in the mirror (How to Deal with Weight Changes In Eating Disorder Recovery). One person told me that that they couldn’t look in the mirror because it made them want to cry. This made my heart hurt because it’s an honest, raw, and legitimate feeling. Many of us have experienced this feeling, myself included, and it’s a source of deep sorrow. So, how do we keep moving forward with triggers in eating disorder recovery?

Acknowledge Your Feelings and Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery
First, it’s vital to acknowledge that our feelings and triggers are legitimate and valid (Mental Illness Validation: I Believe You). When we’ve committed to eating disorder recovery it doesn’t mean that we’re going to like it, especially at first. There will be times when we want to go back to our old patterns. There will be times when we miss our eating-disordered body, despite the fact that it was unhealthy or even destructive for us. We will miss our old life, even if it was killing us. I know we all know what I mean.

It’s Okay to Be Scared of Eating Disorder Recovery Triggers
Recovery is scary because it’s a whole new process. We’re giving up the control that we once so desperately sought and tried to keep a handle on. It’s okay to acknowledge that it sucks. It’s okay to be honest and say that we’re terrified of our body becoming a balloon, or of facing the emotional stuff we’ve been stuffing, starving, or throwing up (What The Mirror Shows Me in Eating Disorder Recovery).

It’s Okay to Mourn the Loss of the Eating Disorder
It’s okay to mourn the loss of the eating disorder; because, after all, it did serve a purpose. It was the best way that, at that point in time, we felt we could protect ourselves from the world. We’re not stupid. We just chose something that would provide us comfort, safety, control, or fill-in-the-blank we sought at our time of distress. Maybe we were grasping at straws and the eating disorder was the one that our fingers pulled.

The eating disorder has been a close, intimate friend, and now we’re saying goodbye. It’s okay to mourn the loss of a friend, and to remember the reason we’re choosing to walk away. The relationship no longer serves us (Eating Disorder Recovery: Getting Better and Losing Friends). If we continue, it will destroy us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It will take us down, to the grave.

It’s Okay to Handle Eating Disorder Triggers Your Way
Although we share a common pool of eating disordered criteria, every person is unique. To the person who can’t look at their body in the mirror without crying, maybe mirrors trigger you or don’t feel like you have a safe space right now. That’s okay. Start your recovery where you feel comfortable and begin to expand that comfort zone (Body Image and Acceptance in Eating Disorder Recovery). Maybe for a while you can cover, or remove, all the full-length mirrors in your house. Maybe your recovery breakthrough will be more focused on how you feel in your body instead of coming to a contrived peace with what you see in the mirror.