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Spotlight on Lasting Recovery: Family Profile with Jason Scoggins

This month's Spotlight on Lasting Recovery features Jason Scoggins, spouse of an alumna of Eating Recovery Center, reflecting on the journey of lasting recovery.

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1. Tell us about your connection to the individual in recovery from an eating disorder.

Erica is my spouse, and we celebrated our 7th anniversary last September.

2. What has been the greatest challenge in supporting your loved one in their eating disorder recovery?

There have been many challenges in supporting Erica over the last several years. And each one presented a new set of obstacles to overcome. And if I were being honest, each new challenge would feel like the most difficult, at least while I was experiencing it. I’d have to say that the greatest challenge is understanding that recovery is a long term process and there will be many highs and lows along the way. Patience and acceptance will be required to even think about making this journey.

3. Has anything surprised you about your loved one’s recovery process?

Honestly, I think that Erica has probably seen more surprises when it comes to her recovery. I find her often making remarks about her inner strength, and that she had no idea that she had it in her. This, of course, is of no surprise to me. As for me, I can’t really think of any examples where I was surprised. I think a huge part of this is by setting aside any expectations for how her recovery should go and learning to accept anything that would come my way. I think early on I may have had unreal expectations about what to expect from her recovery, but those were quickly dismissed the more I learned about the process from attending therapy and informational talks.

4. Would you share your experience supporting your loved one during the holidays?

The holidays can certainly be times when I need to be more aware of how Erica is doing, especially Thanksgiving and any of our holidays that center around massive feasts. I do what I can to “check in” with her as needed, and try to act as a buffer any time I feel like friends or family members might be unknowingly triggering her. Fortunately for us, we aren’t involved in much of the family-induced stress and drama that most people deal with around the holidays, because we don’t really celebrate them in the traditional sense. Our get-togethers are usually low-key and limited to our friends or a couple of family members.

5. Do you have any inspirational quotes, sayings or affirmations that have helped you understand and navigate your loved one’s eating disorder recovery?

I don’t have any specific quotes or mantras that I lean on in times of need. I think the most help that I have found has come from several of the books that I’ve read, as well as my practice in meditation. I have learned that my ability to support Erica is a limited resource, one that must be replenished on a regular basis. I have found, through trial and error, that by taking better care of myself I am in a better position to help and support her.

The following is a list of activities that, when I perform them regularly, have really helped allow me to give Erica the love and support that she needs during her recovery process:

– sleep at least 6 hours a day, but push for 7.5

– mediate for 10 to 20 minutes a day

– exercise

– keep hydrated

– keep a mindfulness journal

– keep a journal to simply vent or keep track of my thoughts (to review objectively in the future)

– write down 3 things I’m grateful for each day

– practice some right-brain activities (art, music, etc.)

There have also been several books that have helped along the way. Here are some examples that I can think off of the top of my head:

  • “Loving What Is” – Byron Katie – This book gives you a very clear set of tools to practically handle any of the thoughts causing you suffering. These are the thoughts that generally go along the lines of “My wife needs to be better sooner….” or “It’s not fair that I have to deal with X…” or “He/she shouldn’t do XYZ…” etc.
  • “10% Happier – How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works – A True Story” – Dan Harris – This is a great read on a “real world” look at the practice of meditation, and its benefits.
  • “A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are” – Byron Katie – another book by Byron Katie, expanding on the first one I listed.
  • “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” – Eckhart Tolle – These were great books to get me started on my way of understanding the mind and how it works against us.
  • “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” – Michael A. Singer – sensing a theme here?
  • “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work” – Shawn Achor – I’m actually reading this one right now … already full of great information.
There’s many more. They key is that it helps to always keep learning, and keep moving forward. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that there is no one-solution-fix-all-situations, and the minute you let your guard down, you can be back to square one in no time.

Recovery is really about the little steps taken each day, not making giant leaps.

Did you find value in attending the alumni retreat and if so, what was the most profound take-away from your experience?

One of the things that did surprise me in our recent retreat, is how much information I ended up having for other support persons going through the same process that I have. It wasn’t until I was answering their questions that I realized just how much I’ve learned, and how far we’ve come.
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