We know her name. We dance to her music. We’ve spent years admiring her strength. But it wasn’t until just recently we started admiring her for much more. Her unnerving, almost brutally honest transparency about her past addictions and current eating disorder relapse make Demi Lovato a role model that we can all learn something from.
In her newest documentary, Simply Complicated, Demi opens up about her present reality; her relapse from her eating disorder. Demi spoke in candor on how breaking up with a long-term love and being on her own for the first time in her 25-years precipitated her seeking out comfort in old eating disorder behaviors. Demi describes her eating disorder; the push and pull of its alluring familiarity and destructive nature:
“Food is still the biggest challenge in my life, it controls. I don’t want to give it the power and say that it controls my every thought, but it’s something that I’m constantly thinking about: body image, what I’m going to eat next, what I could be eating, what I wish I didn’t eat. It’s just constant…”
For those of us in recovery, that push and pull feeling of wanting to retreat back, but insisting on moving forward, is often times all too real. Current research has found that the longer an individual has been struggling with their eating disorder and the older an individual is, the more likely the chances of relapse are. Additionally, a limited variety meal plan, inability to tolerate and process difficult emotions, and a fear of failure all can contribute to a relapse. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to know that nearly 50% of all individuals will relapse from their eating disorder within the first year post-treatment.
Yes, those statistics are alarming, but they’re also oddly comforting. There is something validating, normalizing even, that recovery is rarely linear. There will be bumps in the road and that’s completely okay. It’s how you navigate those bumps that matter. There will be days where you lapse or slip up and use a behavior. There can be times when the world seems too much to bear and your eating disorder becomes all-consuming once again in a full relapse. IT. IS. OKAY. It does not make you weak or bad. Nor does it mean that recovery is impossible. It simply means that you are human.
Just as Demi did, if you are struggling and falling back into old patterns, be honest with yourself and those around you. She describes recovery as such:
“You really have to lean into the people that are trying to support you… You really have to surrender, because that is when the change is going to happen.”
Reach out for help. Lean on those who love you. Attend an ANAD support group or call our helpline. Revisit your reasons for recovery. Give yourself a hug and forgive. But when push comes to shove, be honest, remember that secrets keep you sick, and trust that you are not alone.
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