Home after eating disorder emergency rescue
After her emergency six week hospitalization for eating disorder recovery Bethany asked me if bringing her home living space into order will help her stabilize. To me, it sounds as if her emergency escort to the hospital was a rescue mission, and that she is lucky she the medical team saved her life.
Now it's time for her to take over and rescue her own life. That's true for everyone with an eating disorder. The big questions are when to start? what to do? how to start?
The time to start home self-care is now.
How to start? This question relates uniquely to each person. However, the answer at home is usually right before your eyes. As old school 12-step says, "Do what is in front of you to do." Then follow it. If the window is dirty, wash it. If a paper clip on the floor, pick it up. Then see what's next. If it's a phone call to make or hair to wash and comb, or a diaper to change, or a bed to make, or dishes to wash, or an appointment to keep, do it. Then you'll see what comes next.
If you can see what's in front of you to do and take healthy and practical action regardless of how you feel you are on a positive path. But maybe you can't see that path. Maybe you're flooded with so many tasks and feelings that you are immobilized. What then? That's when people ask, "What should I do?"
Bethany asks, "Should I clear out and organize my home?"
I say, "Yes!".
Living with an eating disorder in control of your actions leads to chaos in your life and environment. Creating a healthy structure that will hold your life securely even when you feel insecure is the foundation that will keep your life and your relationships intact.
What's above reflects what's below and vice versa. Inner chaos creates outer chaos in your home, your file system, you closets, your car, your purse, your kitchen cupboards, your work, your relationships. Everywhere you look you see the chaos theme reinforced. That view goes in your psyche, and you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.
You know where feeling overwhelmed leads: binge, purge and more.
Great way to start maintaining eating disorder recovery.
1. Clear the clutter out of your home. It will help you clear out what's unnecessary in your mind.
2. Get rid of what doesn't work for you, especially if it's broken. That will help you get rid of your reliance on old ways of thinking that don't work for you.
3. Put some beauty in your home. That will help you smile and be more comfortable in your own skin.
4. If you have large things that are not relevant to your life but hold emotional memories you want to preserve (like furniture), take a photo of them. Keep the photo. Donate the item. Give yourself the gift of space while honoring your memories.
Organization and streamlining is certainly not a substitute for the ongoing and deep psychotherapy that is necessary for eating disorder recovery. But, cleaning, organizing your home and bringing beauty to your environment is a strong move to reinforce your self esteem and your eating disorder recovery.
By supplying yourself with a healthy balance of what you need in your environment, your environment will support your health. It will help you follow through on your goals and bring more balance and health to your life.
You can give yourself the firm and stable holding environment the hospital gave you to see your through your crisis. Now that you are home again you can recreate your home to be your own caring environment.
Your caring and thoughtful attention to your home as a supportive and serene environment transforms into wise and compassionate self care. You stabilize your path to eating disorder recovery.
Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD and adult development.
She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, UT. Author of Book:Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder
Appointments are virtual.
For a free telephone consultation e-mail her at