Recovery often means taking a break from jobs, careers, academia…
Any other serious illness and you wouldn’t question the need to take time off to get well… but with an eating disorder we question it, feel guilty and frequently decide it is unnecessary , that we can do recovery and be a high flyer all at the same time!
We try to do it all and very often we cannot.
We cannot because this illness is powerful and recovery takes more mental, physical and emotional strength than anyone knows…. If we are trying to fly high in our work at the same time – well, we don’t want to let other people down so recovery is not our priority.
This was me for years and I see it in so many others… and each time I do my heart breaks.
For years of my illness I was working and like most of us with an eating disorder I excelled in my work.
Many of us do. We are the best employees.
We are hard working and caring and we rarely make mistakes.
We do well and take few sick days.
And we keep going until eventually we cannot.
Sadly though that period of being a high achiever and burn out can be years and in that time we excel at our work but in every other way we shrink. Physically we grow sicker but all other aspects of our lives shrink more each year too.
This makes us more terrified of giving up our career because that is the only thing we feel we have left.
If we stop our career to get well, what is there to even get well for?
I learnt this lesson the hard way.
Only after hitting burnout, more than once, did I realise that to recover and do ALL that takes -not just a half arsed effort, I had to stop life for a time.
To really get well we often need to sacrifice our career in the SHORT TERM so that’s not the only thing left in our lives until we don’t even have that.
We might achieve our career potential but what about our life potential?
Doing it all – early recovery and work – is SO hard.
Early recovery means levels of distress that are not compatible with being a functioning human being for much of the time.
And this illness will kill us if we let it.
I know you are thinking but I cannot afford to.
I said that for years too.
But there are ways.
If this was another illness we would make it work because we would have to.
Recovery is investing in a rounded future with greater potential to earn it back, so please invest in yourself and take that break to get well.