How to Unpack Mixed Feelings About Summer Eating Disorder Treatment

By Alexandra Hayes Robinson

When you think of summer, what comes to mind? For some, the summer months represent rest and relaxation. For others, summer is a logistical circus, filled with travel and school vacations. And for folks struggling with an eating disorder, summer can be especially triggering.

“Prior to my eating disorder recovery, summer was utilized as a season of exercise,” Lindsey Hall, a Say It Brave community member and writer, says. Now that she’s found recovery, Hall’s idea of summer has changed. “Now it is simply a season to enjoy the sun, travel in my van, explore the world, and spend time with people I don't see throughout the year.”

None of that, she says, would be possible if she hadn’t gone forward with eating disorder treatment.

Eating disorder treatment in the summer

The decision to enter treatment was not easy for Hall. “I was worried about the food, what the schedule would be, who the other people would be, how intense the work would be to recover,” she says. “I was scared about all of it.”

Hall’s ambivalence is part of her unique story, but it’s not uncommon. We understand that the decision to go to eating disorder treatment comes with lots of question marks and layers to unpack.

View our summer eating disorder resource guide.

For starters, there’s the logistics of it. You might not want to miss school or other commitments or you might worry about the cost. (At Eating Recovery Center, we can help you navigate insurance.) There’s also the fact that you might not feel ready to say goodbye to the behaviors you’ve grown to rely on, no matter how unhealthy you know them to be.

The reality is that there may never feel like a “perfect time” to start your recovery journey. You may never feel “ready” to take the next step or to imagine your life without your eating disorder.

But we’re here to tell you that it’s possible -- recovery is possible. You don’t need to feel ready in order to start. Our community and compassionate care team are here to help you unpack your ambivalence every step of the way.

Even if you can’t see it now, we ask you to believe us: Your future’s so bright. Just ask Hall.

“In treatment, I was asked to envision myself in one year, five years and 10 years without an eating disorder. Achieving my vision has been one of the more satisfying accomplishments in my life,” Hall remembers. “Because of my recovery, I can walk on a beach without utilizing it as a means to exercise. I can stop to observe the pieces of the forest without the urge to exercise through it. Recovery, in other words, has given me everything.”

Addressing ambivalence

We’re sharing common sources of ambivalence we’ve heard from our community -- and offering a new mentality to unpack that ambivalence and move toward recovery.

“I have responsibilities that I can’t turn my back on.”

Whether you’re a college student taking summer classes, someone with a job or a parent who has planned a vacation with their children, we understand that starting treatment may feel unfeasible because of your responsibilities.

The truth is, when your eating disorder goes untreated, you are not showing up as your most capable self to the responsibilities that you have and care about. Through treatment, you will gain the clarity you need to be the best student, parent, employee that you can be.

“I don’t want my friends and family to know about my struggle, but if I go to treatment, I’ll have to tell them.”

We get it. You may fear being judged by others if you tell them that you are struggling with your mental health. It can be hard to share with loved ones that you are starting treatment -- but it’s also a courageous act that comes with a big reward.

When the people closest to you are aware of what you’re going through and have tools to support you (which we’re here to provide them with), your recovery grows stronger roots. It’s also highly possible that the people you love have struggled in the past, or are currently struggling, with mental or physical health challenges. By speaking out, you can help to break the stigma -- and it models authenticity for others.

You may also be worried that sharing the truth about your mental health could affect your relationships. (“Will it damage them?”) The truth is that your relationship with others cannot thrive if you haven’t first worked on your relationship with yourself. Through treatment and healing, you will repair your relationship with yourself so that you can be fully present and available for the people who matter most in your life.

"I’m afraid to live without my eating disorder."

When you’re deep in your struggles, it can feel like your current coping mechanisms are the only ones that will work and that you need them to feel better. We understand this belief, but as we work together to unpack your ambivalence, we ask that you borrow our belief for a moment instead: There are healthy, alternative coping tools within your reach that will help you feel better for the long term.

By starting treatment, you will build your toolbox with new strategies that will recharge you. They will bring you the freedom you deserve. We understand that this might be hard to believe. Together, we’ll help you see it to believe it.

Unpack recovery this summer

This summer, we’ll be sharing valuable tools, articles and videos with you as we unpack recovery together. Feeling stuck? We invite you to take the first step toward eating disorder recovery by scheduling a free assessment today.


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Written by

Alexandra Hayes Robinson

Alexandra Hayes Robinson is a writer and content strategist based in California. She's held senior leadership positions at Arianna Huffington's behavior change company Thrive Global and The Female…

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