Recovery seems to frequently be thwarted by the ‘do it tomorrow’s. It’s easy to get into a rut of thinking that you can put off the challenge and making changes for another day. I guess it’s like a lot of things in life where we just allow ourselves one last day of perhaps doing the wrong thing with the ideals of making new change in the near future. The problem with putting it off until tomorrow, especially when it comes to mental health recovery, is that tomorrow may well never come. Often, the longer you leave it, the more challenging it can be to actually make the changes you need to move on from your illness.
Of course it’s not as simple as ‘just getting on with it’ and this type of thinking can be equally paralysing. There needs to be a fine balance of motivation but not too much pressure, but equally enough momentum to keep you going. Often getting started really is the worst part, once you are on the right track, things can get a lot more manageable.
In life, we often put off the scariest things because we don’t feel ready to challenge them. In my experience of recovering from an eating disorder, this was all too often the case. I wouldn’t want to start my new meal plan or give up my eating disorder behaviours for fear of what might happen. In a way, once I had committed to change my eating disorder would be vulnerable. For a very long time this stopped me from started to make the recovery focused decisions I needed to get back on track with life. Change is terrifying and when you add in anxiety or low mood, or the pesky voice of an eating disorder belittling you and making you doubt the decisions you are making; of course staying right where you are, in the familiar, is more appealing.
The trouble with comfort zones is they can often give an illusion of comfort but are in fact more damaging than helpful. Just because something feels easier and more manageable doesn’t mean it’s the right place for you to be. The benefit of them is that gradually you can extend the comfort zone, getting used to each few steps, eventually expanding it to be more encompassing of the world.
This quote was a favourite whilst I was an inpatient and as cheesy as it is, it really does sum up this idea perfectly in my opinion! Unless you can make a commitment to making the choices that will lead you towards your recovered life, and continue to keep making those choices each time the decision arises, you can’t make a lasting change.
Taking scary challenges in a step-by-step way can be really helpful. I’m a big fan of lists and sticker charts and I find it really helpful to look at a problem and break it down in a way that is gradually achievable but doesn’t cause me too much stress along the way. I know if I become too overwhelmed, I’m likely to either give up or keep putting off the next steps until tomorrow.