How to Cope When You Think You Can’t.

It seems contradictory, eh? How can you cope when there is clearly no possible way in which you can? How do you manage to become well when the thought alone is unfathomable? I think for us structured, organised, OCDish, perfectionistic types, it’s a clever idea to have a back up plan, a ‘Plan B’ as such when life suddenly seems to spiral out of control and you have no idea how the hell it happened or how to cope.

And what happens when we aren’t coping? We fall back on terrible coping strategies. We become impulsive. We act out, drink too much, we self-harm, we purge or overexercise or restrict. We overdose. We become vulnerable and are no longer safe, even with ourselves. All because we don’t know how to deal with the overwhelming feelings going on in our hearts and minds and guts, so we shove them aside for the time being hoping they’ll solve themselves.

But that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. Or fortunately really, considering experiencing pain is inevitable and a growth experience. But that doesn’t make it any easier, let me assure you.

Allow yourself to be alone. Seriously. Go out for a coffee by yourself (but only if it also involves tasty pastries). Go swing on a swing or go for a walk or go to a nearby park and draw the environment around you. Just because you aren’t always with someone doesn’t mean you don’t have support.

Journal. Journal a lot. Write down thoughts and emotions you can feel in your body. Write down what has gone on in the day. Write a poem, write  a song. Give it a tune, if that’s your thing. Then go walking barefoot and sing it loudly and terribly.

Read helpful books. Books that help you to understand who you are better. Not books that are triggering or distressing, but books that encourage positive thinking and a healthy lifestyle. And read crappy fiction books too. Or fantastic literature such as:

or equiv. If such a thing exists next to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Which it doesn’t.

Eat good food. Today I’ve had raisin toast, yoghurt and tea, a coffee, some crackers and cheese and a wrap with ham, ricotta, tomato and olives. And I am so ridiculously thankful for it all, food is SO GOOD. Be thankful. And do things and eat things that make you feel good 🙂

It might sound crazy, but go see a movie alone. Distract yourself from your mind. Plan things for the day ahead. Go and stare at a beach in wonder. Plan to spend time with people and anticipate those moments greatly. And then anticipate being alone again.

write a list detailing every single thought you’ve ever had about why you would like to recover. Why you need to recover. Why your life will be significantly improved if you no longer purge or restrict or overexercise or self-harm or drink or overdose as a means of coping with all the issues that are going on. I bet you can think of a tonne of them, right now off the top of your head. It’s a good challenge.

There are really so many other ideas floating around in my head, like writing little words of affirmation to yourself and leaving them places you will see them regularly, or taking photos of things that make you feel ridiculously warm and fuzzy inside but if you think it might be a good idea for you to do something like this, go ahead and write them yourself!

And then go right ahead and do them 🙂

These are much healthier ways of coping than the things I mentioned before – but harder to implement in your life. But be brave. I have a feeling your bravery will pay off.

Love, B xo.

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12 thoughts on “How to Cope When You Think You Can’t.

  1. Thank you… this is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I’ve had a day (and a week) that has sucked in all things food related, and a month where I haven’t wanted to think about the mess inside my head. A reminder of coping strategies is so helpful. These are all things I know, but I am very skilled at forgetting them when I get sucked into a black hole. I’m very grateful for the reminder!

    Also, there IS no book to equal To Kill a Mockingbird. Full stop.

    • Hey – I’ve had a terrible month too, and I find writing this stuff down helps me as much as it helps others! It’s nice to put things into perspective. And I think it’s important to practice the coping strategies even in the times when we don’t really need them, so when we really do we know exactly what to do 🙂

      And you’re so right.

      • I really liked your point about thinking about WHY we want to recover, and what life will be like. Because it’s just too easy to switch the rules – ie, ditch the ED rules and replace them with the recovery rules. The recovery rules might be better for my body but they’re not great for my soul if they hold me just as captive as the ED rules. Thinking about what life could be like is a great challenge… not an easy one, though.

  2. I love your blog. You are doing so much good to help others while helping yourself. Fantastic. It also helps those of us who have never personally had to cope with an eating disorder understand those we know who do suffer with this issue.

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