Emotions are incredibly hard to navigate when you’re recovering from an eating disorder.
When trying to deal with overwhelming emotions and trauma, your mind can go into overdrive and start to feel numb, almost passive. Reaching this point can make connecting to what’s really going on for you incredibly hard, and also make therapy feel challenging and confusing in the beginning.
During my recovery, I remember my therapist probing me, saying “you know you can show the dark feelings, I can take it.” At the time I thought this was almost comical: “…but I don’t have any?!” I replied.
You get so used to brutal coping mechanisms, that after some time they just become your mundane reality, and the feelings connected to them disappear.
As this PsychCentral blog post said on feeling emotionally numb: “Numbing means feeling tired from fighting the feelings, feeling anxious and/or depressed.”
Not only is it easy to misunderstand emotions, but physical feelings can also seem confusing. Sometimes it can feel like your mind is completely separated from your body. To counter this, we use therapies that rebuild that connection between the mind and the body, so you can feel whole again.
Fun fact: There is a network of over 100 million neurons in your gut, equivalent to as many as there are in the head of a cat.
The Mind-Body Connection Moment
There’s a time in recovery from an eating disorder where you start to feel your body again. Emotions begin to echo around your whole being, and you start to feel alive. This is an amazing stage, but when it happens it can sometimes feel quite scary.
Unfortunately there’s no pop-up notification in recovery that will tell you what’s coming next. You have to sail the seas and hold on tight to the sides of the ship. When I came to this point in recovery I couldn’t stop crying – it felt amazing to be so moved by both happy and sad things. To feel that my body and mind were responding together.
This stage is where your intuition is at its strongest. Your body and mind are a team, ready to guide you with signals: “this feels wrong”, “I’m excited!” or “I’m nervous..”
Listening to your gut feelings when recovering from an eating disorder helps you to identify the eating disorder voice, along with your well, compassionate voice. Throughout your recovery journey, your well voice and compassionate responses will get stronger and louder, until soon you’re roaring goodbye to your ED!