National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

Is writing one more burden on your to-do list of recovery tasks?  Just you and a blank page staring at you?  Does this image leave you feeling alone and on your own, drained and deflated?

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“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” —Jean Shinoda Bolen

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I sat in the doctor’s consulting room, not knowing where to start sharing my problems of the past 18 years. The spectacled, middle-aged male MD gazed across his desk.

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If you sometimes feel worse after you've written, you're not alone.  I've been spending time with journals for about 25 years, and there were times when my beloved blank books weren't good places to bring certain emotions.  If I were angry, upset or down, I would write the story of what had caused the emotion and I would iterate how awful the experience of the emotion was.  I would feel worse.  I had stirred up all the negative feelings by inculcating the story and had merely sunk myself in deeper.

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For many Americans, the Fourth of July brings thoughts of fireworks, family togetherness, sumptuous barbecue feasts and fresh lemonade. If you’re one of the millions of individuals who struggle with disordered eating or an eating disorder, however, celebrating may be the furthest thing from your mind.

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Opening an entire blank book can be as intimidating as opening the door to a new therapist.  “Free writing,” which is writing in stream of consciousness, flowing with whatever comes to mind, can be a revealing technique.  But its limitlessness has disadvantages.  It can unearth scary memories or thoughts that harm rather than help.  I've used Short Lists and Clusters to give myself structure, containment, and safety.  They guide me effortlessly onto the page.

SHORT LISTS

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“I’m so tired of this!!!” my mom screamed, then started sobbing uncontrollably. It’s the only time I’ve seen her do that, and it will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

I was about sixteen years old. It was a weekend no different than any other, when my mom opened the fridge for an afternoon snack and yet again saw the result of my behaviors.

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Recovery from an eating disorder can be like learning to ride a bicycle – at first, it is wobbly, dangerous, and difficult. Taking both feet off the ground and pushing on the pedals in a bid to move forward is plain scary. Time and repeated efforts are necessary to develop a sense of trust and balance. Only when we achieve this do we start to feel safe and secure; slowly we feel confident enough to start looking around, engaging in life, and accelerate our progress.

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This post by Carolyn Jennings, Journal to the Self® Certified Instructor and author of HUNGER SPEAKS a memoir told in poetry, is part of a series on the benefits of writing for recovery. Through this series, she explores the myths and challenges of journaling and offers hope and insight into her personal experiences with healing from her eating disorder.

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This post by Carolyn Jennings, Journal to the Self® Certified Instructor and author of HUNGER SPEAKS a memoir told in poetry, is the first in a series on the benefits of writing for recovery. Through this series, she explores the myths and challenges of journaling and offers hope and insight into her personal experiences with healing from her eating disorder.

Read more >

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