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Recovery actions, recovery thinking

Posted May 15 2012 11:10pm
My friend Nancy wrote a short blog post about how recovery actions lead to recovery thinking . The title of the blog post was what I was trying to get at here , but Nancy said it much more clearly and succinctly.

It's once of the great myths of ED recovery. Lots of us think that if we can figure out why we're sick, why we're acting the way we are, then we can stop the behaviors. It's not a ridiculous assumption. We like to think that we're rational and logical, and that if we understand just how stupid/pointless/dangerous the ED is, we'll quit.

Remember that scene in Brokeback Mountain where he was like "I can't quit you"?

That's sort of like the ED.

EDs aren't rational and logical. The parts of the brain that drive fear and compulsion kick in way before conscious cognition. It's milliseconds, but on Brain Time, that's quite a while. So even when your conscious brain knows damn well that the eating disorder isn't exactly what you should be doing with your life, you still do it. The ED response becomes instinctive, reflexive. This isn't to say that you have absolutely zero control over whether or not you use behaviors, because that's not true, either. It's just that behavior patterns can become very ingrained, and no amount of thinking can erase that.

Like my old psychiatrist said: You can't think your way out of a disorder that you behaved your way into. {{Yes, I know that EDs have lots of cognitive components, but still...}}

What I learned the hard way was that the only way to change my thinking was to change my behaviors and NOT the other way around. That I didn't have to like recovery behaviors, I didn't have to want to use them, I could scream, howl, protest, and whine, I could be required to do them, but what really mattered was that I did them. The more I acted like a person in recovery, the more I thought like a person in recovery.

It's not that my ED thoughts are gone--they're not--but the recovery behaviors are much more reflexive now. Recovery isn't as much effort.

If there's one phrase that I think would be helpful to repeat, it's the title of that blog post: Recovery actions lead to recovery thinking.
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