Relapse is a common part of recovery from any mental illness – be it from drugs, alcohol, or an eating disorder. Having an eating disorder relapse does not mean that you have failed. Relapse is more common than you would think. Clearly, no one who has gone through eating disorder recovery wants to relapse. But sometimes it happens. You can always learn from any relapse that you have by making note of what went wrong this time. You can turn a negative into a positive by learning from your mistakes and taking steps to avoid the things that happened this time. The first line of defense against relapse is recognizing the warning signs.
1. You Start to Consider Dieting
Excessive dieting is one of the major components of most eating disorders. It gives the person with the eating disorder a feeling of control over his or her body. Control may be what he or she is seeking in a life that is out of control. If, after seeking treatment, you find yourself dieting or paying too close attention to what you are eating, you may be looking toward a relapse.
2. You start to avoid eating in public.
During an active eating disorder, sufferers generally beg off of eating with other people as a way to hide their illness. Eating disorder treatment teaches you that you can eat with your family and with friends. You can eat in restaurants and at tables with other people. If you are headed toward a relapse, you may start to withdrawal from eating with other people. This is one of the first steps in hiding an eating disorder and beginning to lie about it.
3. You begin to research calorie counts and food information about everything you eat.
This kind of research can be indicative of a relapse. It puts the focus on exactly what you are taking into your body. While you should pay attention to what you are eating and be making healthy choices, you should be limiting this kind of information. It leads you back onto the path to obsessing about food which leads back to an eating disorder.
4. You do not think you need any more help.
The struggle with an eating disorder can go on for a long, long time. Sufferers may have to think about their relationship to food for the rest of their lives. If you get to a point where you do not think that you need any more help or you do not have a problem, you might be in the right place for a relapse. This kind of thinking means that you will likely start to ignore your triggers or be less careful about your eating and exercising routines. It is important that even after treatment is complete that you remember what you learned and remember how to use all of your tools.
5. You are displaying more physical signs of poor nutrition.
When you were in your active eating disorder, you may have been excessively thin, dehydrated, bruised easily, had thinning hair, or were fatigued all the time. Some of these symptoms may be returning if you are starting back into poor eating habits such as binge eating junk food or not eating at all. There are many physical and mental symptoms that come along with eating disorders. If you are starting to show signs of any of them, you are already down the road to relapse.
6. You have been skipping follow up treatment appointments.
One of the best ways to keep yourself from relapsing is to keep any treatment appointments you have made once you have finished with formal eating disorder treatment. These appointments can remind you of the hard work that you have already done and the tools that you were given to keep yourself out of the eating disorder jungle. If you are concerned about relapsing, you should make some treatment appointments and keep them.
7. You are putting undue pressure on yourself to achieve perfection.
This is one of the major causes of eating disorders. People are trying to achieve what they view as perfection. Often, they have trouble achieving perfection of mind and spirit so that attempt to achieve perfection in body. This includes having exactly the right look and being exactly the right size and shape. This kind of pressure is too much as the perfect body does not exist in real life. Models and celebrities are touched up in photographs which means that real life perfection is not attainable. If you are striving for this kind of perfect, you are doing yourself a harm, and you may be looking at an eating disorder relapse.