Are you traveling this season? Are you going to stay with family? Are you going with friends for a week or weekend of frolic, perhaps in the snow? Maybe you and a friend are taking a few days to be together on retreat in a lovely location. Perhaps you are traveling alone to a seminar, workshop, meditation retreat so you can share the holidays with other people and not be by yourself.
Challenges in Packing
Movement, planning to engage in movement, the activity of planning, making arrangements, having fantasies and hopes for a good time ahead can distract you from your eating disorder. Or, you can become anxious and overwhelmed by the many little tasks required to make the journey happen and binge, purge, avoid eating and sleeping and be in an irritable or anxious state.
Are either of these descriptions you?
1. You feel busy, conscientious and free of your eating disorder as you pack. You sing Christmas carols. You remember happy times. You envision joyous moments. While this sounds delightful, if you look a bit more closely you may discover that you are a bit manic. It’s a nice feeling, and it does block fear and anxiety. But it can get out of control and go too far. That bit of a manic feeling can stop with a crash, leaving you frightened and depressed...and vulnerable to an eating disorder episode.
2. You feel frantic, acting out and unorganized as you put objects in your suitcase. (For example, you can’t figure out what you will need in the way of jewelry or shoes or tops, so you pack far more than you will ever need just in case you need one of the many.) You are overwhelmed by your need to make choices and want someone to be with you while you pack. You want her to help you sort, stay calm, pack reasonably and not act out your eating disorder.
Holidays do not trump eating disorders
If you have an eating disorder, you still have it from mid November to mid January. Regardless of expectations you have for or that others have for you, the holiday is not the highest priority in your decision making. Your highest priority needs to be taking care of yourself.
When you can take care of yourself everything else will fall into a more healthy and functional place for you and people around you.
Challenge of travel during holidays
Getting ready for travel, especially during the holidays, brings up powerful feelings, memories, associations, wishes, dreams, dreads and hopes. If you have an eating disorder, you know experiencing powerful feelings for a sustained period of time is your greatest challenge. So, your greatest challenge in traveling now is planning, making arrangements and packing to care for yourself. Clothes, shoes, hats, jewelry, gloves, socks are in a much lower category in terms of priorities.
What do you need to help you be okay on your trip?
1. telephone appointments with your psychotherapist.
2. your journal
3. your meditation tapes
4. OA or ANAD meetings at your destination
5. outreach phone numbers – friends, members of your support group, OA in your locale.
6. inspirational readings
7. sketch pad, drawing pencils, water color set.
8. camera if you like to take photographs
9. plan for going to church or other spiritual place at your destination – with or without your companions as arranged in advance.
10. a commitment to make the time to honor and care for yourself by making clear to yourself and the people around you that you need to take time for at least two of these projects a day – with or without company as you wish and arrange.
Once these self care priorities are in place, then pack what you need in terms of clothing, supplies and gifts. When you are stressed at all, when you feel the urge to act out your eating disorder, when you feel emotional and misunderstood, go to your self care list and pick a number.
Give yourself a chance to care for yourself in ways that are deeply meaningful to you.
Value of your recovery kit
When you travel over the holidays and bring your recovery kit with you, you give yourself the gift of continued healing regardless of location and company. And what better gift could you receive this holiday season than more recovery, more health, more capacity for happiness?