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4 posts from August 2011


You Can't Lie to Your Journal

In a previous article, I wrote about how journaling can help you choose the right tools for your recovery. Of course journaling is a powerful tool in its own right. It's very difficult to lie to yourself when you're writing. There's something about putting pen to paper that always brings out the truth.
If you've been getting complacent with your recovery, your journal will start to reveal if you're headed towards relapse. Here are a few suggestions to make sure you get these important messages:
  • Keep writing, even when you don't feel like it. Start with "I don't feel like writing today..." and see where it takes you.
  • Read your journal entries to your therapist, support group or a trusted friend or family member. You'll get an outside perspective and they may recognize the warning signs before you do.
  • Re-read your own entries. You may see patterns, such as more negative thoughts or particular issues coming up day after day.
For additional free journaling tips, download the Therapist at Home e-book from our website. You may also benefit from the spirit of change 21-day journaling course. A new lesson is delivered by email every day for 21 days, but you're welcome to go at your own pace.
As we learned from Beth's story, even when you're doing many of the right things in your recovery, relapse can sneak up on you – especially if you're lying to yourself about what's going on. Keep talking to your journal and the truth will come out.



Upcoming Groups and Workshops - New Starts and Ideas

Upcoming Groups and Workshops will help you get a jump start in your personal growth process.  Click here to view and download your own printable copyTell us what you think of the new workshops - let us also know what interests YOU!


The Danger of Easy Recovery – Beth's Story

Beth (not her real name) had been recovering from a compulsive eating disorder for eight months. She visited her therapist once a week, attended 12-step program meetings, and wrote diligently in her journal every single evening. She was gaining more confidence eating in public settings, and was usually able to speak up and ask for what she needed, whether that was specific foods, or extra support.
Things were going so well that she didn't want to rock the boat by paying too much attention to a few niggling thoughts in the back of her mind. For example, she was feeling really nervous about starting a new role at work. Sometimes when she started thinking about it, her thoughts would spiral down until she felt so low she wondered if an extra helping at dinner or a sweet treat might make her feel better.
She'd heard the word "relapse" and the idea terrified her. So much that she didn't even want to mention her worries to her therapist or anyone else in her support network. She thought that talking about it might make it happen. She was probably just being dramatic.
Two weeks later, Beth was in a full-blown relapse, wondering, "How did this happen? Things were going so well!"
At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, we hear from many people who let their guard down and then fell into a relapse situation.
You never actually "graduate" from a recovery program, because life will continue to present new challenges that you must go through without sinking back into your compulsive behaviors. But you can pursue more intensive "graduate-level" recovery activities.
Your goal is to constantly strive for your next level of recovery, and to always be on the lookout for anything that could threaten your new way of life.
Learn from Beth's experience – talk about your troubles and don't stop working on your recovery. That way you can avoid relapse before it starts.


10 Ways to Take Your Recovery to the Next Level

StairsWhether you're just starting to address your food issues, or you've already had some healing from eating disorders and food addiction, there is always a next level of recovery to be reaching for.
The truth is that if you get stuck in a rut in your recovery, it puts you in real danger of relapse. It's crucial to keep taking actions and work constructively on finding new solutions to your daily issues – because life will always bring new challenges.
"90 in 90" is a technique that people in 12-step programs use – they attend 90 meetings in 90 days, striving for one meeting per day (but sometimes doubling up). This method of enveloping yourself in recovery has a powerful impact. If you're new, it's an intense introduction to the 12-step way of life. If you're floundering, it's a fresh infusion of experience, strength and hope for dealing with the struggles of food addiction.
Compare that to someone who dips a toe into recovery once a week – maybe at a therapy session, group or 12-step meeting. That's still a strong commitment and a wonderful act of self-care, but what happens in between?
If you've stopped gaining new insights from your journaling, if you're struggling to stay clean with your food, or if you're just feeling stuck in your recovery, it's time to take that next step. Here are just a few possibilities to consider: 
  1. Group work – Join a support group of people who are dealing with similar issues. If you're already in a group, try adding a second one.
  2. 90 in 90 – If you're in a 12-step program, try the "90 in 90" approach.
  3. Food log – Share your food log with someone every day as a way of staying accountable and honest with yourself.
  4. Shared meals – Find a safe and supportive place to prepare and eat healthy meals. Ask a friend or family member (you may even want to move in for a short time), or see if your treatment center or counselling center can dedicate a space for this purpose. 
  5. Inpatient care – There is something very powerful about surrendering your day-to-day responsibilities and putting yourself in the care of healing professionals.
  6. Intensive therapy – If you're doing one therapy session per week, consider upping that to two or three sessions.
  7. Support team – Add people to your support team. This will probably be a mix of professionals, friends and family. Make more calls, schedule more visits and ask for the support you need.
  8. Community service – Volunteering to help others is a way to focus on something other than your food issues.
  9. Creative expression – Write stories, poems or your own life story. Make music or art. These pursuits can be very therapeutic and personally fulfilling.
  10. Sharing your story – At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, we host events called "Living Room Stories." Sharing your experience can be healing and validating for you as well as very important for those who need to hear about your successes.
If things are going well in your recovery, you may be thinking you don't have to worry about any of this. Why rock the boat? It can be painful to keep pushing through every new issue that is revealed. It can leave you feeling raw and vulnerable.

Keep going up those steps. It's worth it. The amount of effort you put into your recovery will determine the level of relief you get from your eating disorder and food addiction. And don't forget – there are people who can help you walk through this tough stuff.