Permission to Despair
Tiffany Haug, MS, RDN, EDOC
We get stuck in a trap as recovered eating disorder clinicians.
The trap of becoming an out-of-touch cheerleader.
When our clients raise emotions that WE as clinicians are uncomfortable with, we default to:
“You can make it through.”
“It’s going to be great on the other side.”
“If you can just get this under control, your life is going to be so much better.”
I hope you know, reader, that I do 100% believe life is fuller in recovery.
But... those of us who have been in recovery for a long time can forget how despairing it is to be in the trenches of it.
To be in a place where not only don’t you see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you baseline question if the dang light even exists. If the light does, in fact, exist, you question if it’s light you want to spend your time and energy looking for.
It's not that you don’t think recovery is possible. You've known people, seen people, and heard of people who have made it to the “other side.” But what's so darn despairing is that you don’t think you have it in you, or you question if recovery is going to be good enough on the “other side” to want to stay there. This is what is so dang hard.
And the truth is, there is room for that despair.
I might even—very tentatively—venture to say that there’s room for hopelessness. Hopelessness and despair are really scary things and you shouldn’t go through it without professional support around you. Still, being allowed to feel these emotions is important. I'm telling you, there is not one single human in recovery that has never experienced these emotions.
You need support, you need to be listening to your providers, and you need to be in therapy (as I think everyone should). But there is a place for despair and hopelessness and that's super normal.
It's ok to feel hopeless—you are not hopeless—but it's ok to feel that way.
I've felt hopelessness.
I’ve felt in despair.
I've felt like “I don't think I can do this.”
And I’ve definitely felt that I don't want to do this.
For a good chunk of the first several years of my recovery—most of it was thinking “Really, this just stinks, I wish I could be in my eating disorder.”
So, any of those thoughts and emotions you are having, there's a place for that. And I don't want to end this piece by saying that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (although there definitely is). Because most of all, you are allowed to feel what you feel.
And a lot of other people feel that way too.
It's not daisies and roses all the time. Many times the daisies and roses in the recovery process are a mere 0.5% of the picture— The other 99.5 % is a whole lot of the other crummy emotions we have to go through for growth and healing.
But you can and will get through it.
These emotions have been felt by others who have recovered.
And you are #legit and can make it through too.
Tiffany Haug, MS, RDN, EDOC is a Master's level Dietitian in San Diego who specializes in helping individuals with Eating Disorders make peace with food and their bodies. Tiffany knows that working through recovery can be incredibly hard. Being herself recovered for almost a decade, she is incredibly honored to now be able to give back by supporting her clients along this challenging, but so-very-worth-it journey. In addition to being an Eating Disorder Dietitian, Tiffany serves as the Education Chair for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) San Diego Chapter and works as a Pediatric Dietitian at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. Learn more about Tiffany here.