Discharging from an eating disorder treatment center can be a scary and nerve-racking time. Day to day activities can seem like the most difficult things to do. Urges to engage in eating disorder behaviors may be strong, and it may feel very overwhelming to continue recovery outside of a program. Although these urges may be strong and overwhelming, it is important to know that urges after discharging are a normal part of the recovery process. They do not mean that you are doing something wrong; they are your mind's way of telling you that something is going on.
When urges to engage in eating disorder behaviors arise, it is important to utilize skills to manage those urges. Identifying and becoming aware of thoughts and emotions can help you break down any overwhelming experiences that can lead to behaviors. By doing this, you can give yourself a chance to understand your emotions that may feel distressing or unbearable. Additionally, support from family members and/or loved ones can be a positive way to manage any urges. Reaching out to people who can be there to listen and provide support when needed can be a great way to manage impulses. Finally, it can be helpful to identify some alternative behaviors to engage in. For example, practice mindfulness, call a friend, or journal rather than engaging in eating disorder symptoms. Recovery is not a race, and it is okay if it feels like a long process. Take it one day and one step at a time.
Aimee Lightburn, MA, LMHC, is the Admissions/Utilization Review Coordinator at The Renfrew Center of Orlando. She received her Bachelor's degree in psychology from Albright College and her Master's degree in Applied Clinical Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University. Aimee has many years of experience working in the mental health field, and is excited to continue her journey working with eating disorders.