I have battled my eating disorder for way too long now. It’s been about 10 years of a constant roller coaster, and this past year, I finally took myself off it and agreed to look into help at the advice of my therapist. Now that I’ve completed six months of outpatient treatment and started over with a new treatment team, summer is approaching once again.
It seems like every summer, I have needed new clothes to adapt to whatever state my body was in and had gone through in the year leading up to the warmer months. I dreaded this year, especially because this is the very first time I stopped manipulating my weight to adapt to swimsuit season. It was hard, but I got through it without breaking down into tears this time around.
So, I wanted to offer my advice to anyone who may be going clothes shopping after entering recovery for the first time.
1. Bring someone from your support system who you know will be helpful and supportive.
2. Do your best not to change how you eat that day compared to any other day in recovery. You want the clothes to fit you, not for you to fit them.
3. Fact check. Fact check. Fact check. Clothing sizes can be so triggering, but they vary in every single store! Fact check the idea that this number is your worth, and it is probably not even accurate; it’s just what happens to fit you, nothing more to it.
4. Be aware that triggers will happen. Comparisons will happen. Do your best to breathe. Remind yourself that everyone feels insecure and that’s valid, but it doesn’t mean you have to change how you look.
5. Be honest when it’s too much to handle, and leave if you are feeling it’s putting you in an unsafe mindset.
6. Find what is comfortable for the stage you are at in your own recovery. Maybe buy one or two things for days you are ready to challenge yourself a little extra, but stick to what you know you will feel good in right now.
Eating disorder recovery is such a long bumpy road, but you aren’t alone. Recovery doesn’t mean you wake up loving yourself; it just means you care enough about yourself to respect what your body asks and needs from you. Summer is especially tough for those of us still fighting for some relief, but the more we can get through the uncomfortable parts, the more we will get to experience life beyond our eating disorders.