Have you checked the children? (guest blogger)


This post is something a very excellent friend of mine has penned for ye all. It’s an extremely good read and I highly recommend you all have a looksies. Essentially, she takes a look at the concepts of “opportunity” and “permission” and highlights the importance of self-accountability. So go on. Why are you still reading my words?

An issue that I struggle with day in and day out is attempting to differentiate “opportunity” and “permission”. We are constantly encouraged to seize each and every opportunity we come across, under the premise that later, we will regret not taking said opportunity. So how does this concept work in favour of recovery? It doesn’t.

“Opportunity” does not work in favour of recovery at all.

Opportunities are bound to appear. There will be a time when your parents aren’t home or you’re living on your own. There will be a time when you’re sick, or you run out of milk. There will be a time when you feel like your self-accountability is low enough to be capable of lying to your support person or outpatient team about your meals or behaviours. All of these events are going to pop up and you’re going to have to learn to deal with them on your own. You can’t rely on supervision or prompts from others to keep yourself accountable – you must develop strong self-accountability if you genuinely want to recover, because no one can recover for you.

Opportunity is your eating disorder’s best friend and it comes hand in hand with self-accountability. Just because you may have taken opportunities to restrict, binge, purge, self harm, etcetera before, doesn’t mean that you have to do the same now. It is essential to your recovery that you break the pathway that links opportunity to permission. I know that it is in no way an easy task and you may slip up, but you have to keep reminding yourself that an opportunity is not permission. Similarly, the concept of “slip ups” being a common part of the recovery process does NOT insinuate that you have permission to slip up. It simply implies that you need not beat yourself up about slipping and encourages you to get back on track immediately. Remember that it’s never too late to get back on track.

Developing strong self-accountability means that you are accountable to yourself. You do things for yourself. You recover for yourself. Not your parents or your partner or your best friend. Yourself. That self-accountability has the power to stop you from interpreting those common opportunities as permission thoughts and having the urges to act on them.

The day program for eating disorder recovery that I attend has a policy of no more than x slip ups per week. If you breach this, you’re subject to discharge or encouraged to return to inpatient care. I have really struggled to suppress behaviours knowing that there are x opportunities that I can play the “get out of jail free” card for. The one thing that I’ve had to remind myself of again and again that has kept me compliant is that an opportunity is not permission. Yes, I am repeating myself. I don’t want to act on the urges I’m feeling, my eating disorder is desiring to act purely because there is an opportunity to. I am no stranger to the concept of “you want what you can’t have”, so this is what I remind myself of when I do have those urges and opportunities.

If in the moment, you can stop and consider whether you are tempted to act because you want to, or because you have the opportunity to, you are identifying the difference between your eating disordered self and preferred self, and with that comes the foundation for building solid self-accountability. That self-accountability is the key to defusing permission thoughts as opportunities present themselves in the moment, which in turn, weakens the eating disorder. I encourage you to remind yourself of this the next time you are feeling triggered or you have an urge to restrict or engage in compensatory behaviours. You absolutely must learn the skill of self-accountability in order to overcome your eating disorder, and you do have the ability and willpower to do it.

Written by thepancakediet for R is for Recovery (and Rebekah)

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