eating disorder recovery

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as you may well know, i once struggled with an eating disorder. i’ve met and heard from so many of you who also struggle with this so today i’m gonna share what has worked for me.



Jennette McCurdy

Jennette McCurdy  00:00

I had eating disorders for a good portion of my life about 12 years. You know, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder. They just ruled me for a long portion of my life. They ruled me, I think that’s the best way of articulating it. I’ve been eating disorder free for years at this point. And when I say eating disorder free, I mean, I consider myself recovered. This is kind of a controversial statement in the eating disorder community.


Jennette McCurdy  00:50

They really like to use the word like recovery, like we’re always in recovery from an eating disorder, we’re never recovered. We’re always in recovery, because it’s something we always have to maintain and work on. And I find that language so frustrating, unhelpful unmotivating I, it just kind of makes me angry. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, like, and you hear oh, you’re going to always have to be working on it for the rest of your life. That seems like I felt hopeless when people were using that kind of language. So I feel it is important, because it is true to let you guys know that I’m recovered. I’m hopeful that that’s in some ways. heartening to you, and gives you some sense of hope, if you’re struggling right now that you can be recovered. And what I mean by recovered is that I have not been purged, restricted, countered a calorie exercised in a disordered way, just recovered. And it feels great and I don’t think about it, I don’t think about food at all, I completely eat whatever I want, whenever I want no food rules. It’s really, I can’t believe it, and I’m, and I’m so grateful for it and I’ve got some tools and some strategies that worked for me that I would like to share with you guys today. I did a college tours the book was as my book, I’m glad my mom dad was coming out and I had a lot of these colleges, young women and men would ask me questions more often than not women, but definitely men as well would ask me questions about about eating disorders, and how to how, you know what steps I took to kind of recover from one and there was clearly a lot of curiosity and interest from people who I suspect we’re struggling themselves. And I just have really wanted to have all of the all the things that worked for me all the strategies and tools, all the tools in the toolkit, I’ve wanted to have them all in one space for you guys. So that you can just kind of just have it all in one place and just to be to be super clear, of course, obviously. Clearly, I am not a therapist, I have no degree of any kind, I did not go to college, and just vaguely went to high school because it was I was doing High School on set.


Jennette McCurdy  03:26

So the only authority that I have to speak on this is that I’m a person who struggled for a long time in a really, really significant way. And I no longer struggle with this. And I’m free of it so that to me. I hope lends some authority but also one other little caveat is that of the things that I’m saying. It’s everything in terms of healing recovery, I consider it to be extremely customizable, and extremely subjective. So if it’s not working for you, if something doesn’t resonate, when you hit just leave it right only only pay attention to the stuff that seems like it’s going to work for you, you know you best and I’m genuinely hoping for your freedom from this. I really, really hope for your success. The first piece of advice that I feel like most everybody says when it comes to recovering from an eating disorder is finding a good therapist. And it’s kind of like stock advice at this point. You just know you’re gonna hear it. I totally get that. I think it’s important, but also therapy is fuckin expensive. I get it right, it’s like it’s crazy. So I’m gonna give a list of tips that don’t require a therapist. I certainly hope you you are able to have one at some point. But I also get if you if you aren’t able to afford one. Or maybe you try talking to a few and you don’t mind a personality man after that’s fine too. So DBT is the kind of therapy that worked for me with the eating disorder specifically, in a quick little brief nutshell, my understanding of DBT is there are four modules. It’s distress, tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. And the whole premise of the therapy is that you learn skills within each of these four modules to help you tolerate the urges that come with your addiction, to just kind of increase the amount of time that happens between when you have that urge, and you act on that urge. Because in that little window of time, that’s the window that you can really build upon and strengthen until, you know, hopefully, the the urges just get smaller and smaller, the less that you act on them and you know, till the issue goes away. So so my first kind of tool in the toolkit, if you will, is look up the DBT videos online for eating disorders and see what insight wisdom you can kind of glean from those. The second tool that I want to share with you is to tell a few trusted people, few trusted friends, and be as discerning as you can with the people that you tell all right, you got to tell people that want you to win, not people that need you to stay small so that they can feel better about themselves. I told a couple people when I was struggling, and I’m really grateful that I told certain people, and I kind of wish I hadn’t told others. Because as I was making strides in my recovery as I was gaining confidence in my recovery and getting, getting some successes under my belt, and you know, inevitably the people that I told would kind of ask how it’s going and if I shared that things were going well I could see almost like, like their face twitch. So just you know, I hope that you’re discerning and the people that you that you choose to share this information with. Tell also people that don’t pity you, right? You want compassion, not pity. Somebody pities you, they’re looking down on you. They’re seeing themselves as above you. It feels nasty. You can feel that he’s pitting you and it feels bad. For me, if I could feel somebody pitting about pitting me, it made me feel worse about myself, I did not want to be pitied. I wanted compassion, and I wanted support, not fucking pity. So tell people that support you that are compassionate. And that believe in you believe that you can do it believe that you can recover. I think having having people around you who really believe in you is crucial. So use discernment with who you tell, but try to tell a few people because it’ll, it’ll just relieve a lot of that shame instantly. That’s what happened for me, I told a couple people and it was just like, instantly freeing, it was like, oh my God, it’s not this secret anymore. It’s not this shameful, shameful thing. Just having some people know about it feels like I can now I can now explore it more thoroughly. Third tip that I have here, third thing that really helped me was throwing out my scale. And this was very difficult, I had tried multiple times to throw it out. And then I just go out the next day and buy a new one. I actually talked about this in my book, so I won’t, I won’t dwell on it in case you’ve read it, to not bore you. But I decided you know, as a birthday present to myself, I’m going to throw away this scale. If I tell myself look, this is something I’m doing for myself, this is the present I’m giving to myself for my birthday, I can I can maybe not go out and buy it again the next day, this time. And it happened, it was meaningful enough to me that I did not go out and buy another scale, I have not bought another skill since then. I know it’s a difficult action in terms of everything that I just said where the impulse is going to be there to go out and buy a new one. And, you know, I’m assuming if you’re somebody struggling with an eating disorder, you’re probably like I was in defining yourself by that number. And, you know, trying to control that number. It’s just it just fuels the obsession, the compulsions so much that if you are able to throw it out by any means, however, you’ve got to do it whatever you’ve got to tell yourself to throw it out for me it was you know, I need it to be I need it to be meaningful and I’ll and that’ll get me to throw it out permanently. Figure out what language is going to work for you and what messaging is going to work for you and then throw out the fucking scale okay, like I cannot recommend that enough.


Jennette McCurdy  09:32

There will probably be anxiety there was certainly anxiety for me of like, oh, I don’t if I don’t know if I don’t know the number what’s gonna happen like, You’re gonna be fine. You’re going to be so much better than fine by not cycling and obsessing about this thing. Just you’ve got better things to think about. Like, God, if there’s one thing I could tell my younger self, it’s like quit wasting your time. You’ve got so much better things to think about. You’re wasting your time with this eating disorder and I hope you hear the truth and that if you’re struggling currently there, you have better things to think about. I don’t care where you’re from what you do, you have better things to think about than this eating disorder. So the sooner you can kick this thing, the better throw out that scale.


Jennette McCurdy  10:35

The fourth thing that really helped me is identifying the eating disorder voice. This was a very, very tricky piece of Recovery to me. And yet profoundly impactful once I kind of started getting the hang of it. So I, when I was in the throes of menus, where I didn’t know how to identify my eating disorder voice when my therapist said, hey, you know, he explained to me sort of voice and that we’re going to start working on it. On identifying it. I was just confused, I thought eating disorder voice, what do you mean, I’ve got a separate voice in my head for my own voice like that sounds weird, what’s happening, what’s going on, I was just confused. What I came to later realize was that the eating disorder voice was really the main voice, the dominant voice in my life, it was the thing that was guiding. Really, most of my actions, you know, so much of my life was revolved around my eating disorder, obviously, what I ate or didn’t eat, but what I wore what I said, who I was, with, you know, I would avoid social settings where I’d have to eat because it would be too stressful. Like, so much of my life was catered to this, this eating disorder voice, the voice telling me to not eat, or to throw up what I ate, or to go run 13 miles, whatever, whatever that voice was telling me that thing reigned supreme, that thing was in charge. And my actual voice, my actual intuition had really been quite silenced by that eating disorder voice. And so what my therapist helped me do was to identify my own voice, he kind of reverse engineered it, he had me identify my own voice that was telling me logical, sensible, supportive information. Maybe let’s try eating breakfast today. Hey, you know what, let’s, let’s sit with this really uncomfortable feeling that we’re having after eating and not throw up? Let’s not purge, let’s try to not purge can we do that, like, he had me kind of identify that voice, and strengthen that voice? Identifying the eating disorder voice was vital, because then once I was able, once I was able to amplify my own voice, and and identify the eating disorder voice, I could have a dialogue with it. And I could say, hey, I hear you eating disorder voice. But you’re no longer needed. This is a sub tool in the toolkit I’m on for this is like for B, right? Recognizing the value that your eating disorder had in your life, or my therapist has told me, like, how does your eating disorder help you? I was confused. I looked at him like, what I’m here to get over my it is what you mean, help me it’s ruining my life, like, what are you talking about? Why am I talking about how an eating disorder healthy? And he goes, well, it, it served a purpose for a long time we do what helps us most or say, you know, I’m paraphrasing here, but he was a therapist and smart about and like, pushed his glasses on his face a little more. And he was great. But he was like, what we’re doing in our lives makes sense. So the fact that you had a new source for so long was probably a survival mechanism, coping mechanism, something that you needed to help you in certain ways. And now you just no longer need it. Now you’ve got better tools in your toolkit, now you’ve got better resources, but it’s important that we recognize the value that our eating disorder served in our life, so that we can recognize the value that we now find in other things, other things that we’re using to replace our eating disorder. This was kind of mind blowing, and as I mentioned, confusing, but really, really key for me as well, identifying the value that my eating disorder brought me so it brought me the illusion of control. It was a way to numb out overwhelming emotions. It was a way to tolerate situations that I felt completely powerless in and recognizing that value helped me to find a sense of control a sense of power in other healthier ways, and then the last tool in the toolkit that I’m going to share with you that really worked for me is living a values based life, there was an exercise a very, very just basic elementary exercise that my therapist had me do, which was to identify my values he had me, he gave me like a packet that said, a list of 300 values or something like that and then I was supposed to categorize them into the ones that did not appeal to me, the ones that appeal to me and the ones that really appealed to me. And he told me to make sure that the the, the values that I was selecting, were not aspirational values, it’s not like, oh, I’d like to be generous, so I’m going to, I’m going to, they’re not goals, right, their values. So it’s what’s actually really, really important to you in your life. And he encouraged me to think deeply about it to not rush to take my time take, you know, I think it was a week, a full week that I took, I sorted these things into piles, I took it so seriously, you guys, it was like it was in a beautiful mind, like doing the equation on the chalkboard, but it was like a fucking values exercise. No, it was it was it was very fun and incredibly helpful. But I, I did take it very seriously. And I came up with kind of five core values that I then took to him. And I didn’t recognize how impactful this exercise was going to be. But my God have I recognized it in the time since having values, knowing what my values are knowing what really, really matters to me. And also no judgement, I really encourage no judgement, if you’re doing a values exercise for yourself, you might care about things that you don’t know anybody in your circle to care about. We’re wired different ways, right? And just embrace those parts, embrace what you care about. It’s fine, you’re fine, accept yourself, even if nobody else does, and you’re gonna be golden, I promise. But accepting my values and accepting what really mattered to me and recognizing I had never really, I don’t know, I’d consider myself a thoughtful person, I thought I thought about a lot in my life a lot. I can’t fucking stop thinking that’s kind of the problem, right? But for some reason, lasering on these values and going, Oh, that is what’s most important to me, it was life changing. It just kind of clarified the lens with which I viewed the world and how I made decisions and what I chose to do and not do it, it was truly transformative, truly life changing, you can literally just look up like a simple values exercise on Google, it’ll probably send you 10 different options. And I hope you find something that really suits you. And I hope you really take your time with figuring out what your values are. I feel such a connection to those of you who approached me about my book, and share that you are struggling yourselves to same disorder and who asked me for tips or who at these colleges asked me questions about, you know, what can I do? I’m in the throes of the scenes or how can I see you guys, right? I understand in a deep, deep way, the way our brains work with with these eating disorders, and I just want you to know that recovery is possible. I just want you to believe in yourself and believe in your potential and know that you have so much more potential than this fucking me. So this eating disorder is doing nothing but sabotaging your potential. And I want to speak directly for a moment to if you guys are struggling and you feel really lonely in the struggle. You know, maybe it’s amazing if you have a great support system, but maybe you don’t. Not everybody’s lucky enough to have a great support system. Maybe you’re bullied in school, maybe your family’s abusive, or just deeply dysfunctional or just not there for you. Maybe you just feel different than everybody in your family. I want you guys to know that you do not need you know this gleaming, smiling support system to get through it. All you need is yourself. That’s all I am thinking of you all a lot. I wish you guys the best, bye.


CREDITS  19:21

If you want more Hard Feelings, you’re in luck. You’ve got options. On Apple podcasts. There’s bonus content for subscribers with Lemonada Premium, you can hear me answer exclusive questions from listeners. on Spotify. You can talk to each other by leaving comments on each episode and on Amazon music. You can listen ad free with a subscription to Amazon Prime. . I’m Jennette McCurdy, the creator, executive producer and host of HardFeelings. It’s produced by Lemonada Media in coordination with Happy Rage productions. Our production team is Kegan Zema, Aria Bracci and Brian Castillo. Music is by Hannah’s Brown. Steve Nelson is Lemonada’s Vice President of weekly content. Rachel Neil is Lemonada Senior Director of new content. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and me. Listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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