Bigger picture thinking is here!

Catherine Liberty's picture

I’m sure you’ve realized by now that the "recovery inspiration" section of our articles is rapidly growing. What can I say, I just love to share a good success story!

That is because I truly believe the inspiration we can draw from the successes of others can provide an invaluable source of motivation and reassurance in recovery. However I also understand that reinforcing the idea that recovery will take at least 6-12 months, and in many cases even longer, can be very intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out.

So with that in mind, as part of this weeks special recovery article I thought it would be a great idea for us to talk about something called

“Bigger Picture Thinking”

Bigger picture thinking has a lot to do with focusing on the end result of recovery; it's about really trying to see how all of the smaller steps you are taking in recovery now will at one point join together to form a Bigger Recovery Picture.

Of course bigger picture thinking is not everything, but it can certainly help us to remain rational, logical and hopeful at times when recovery seems to be "too challenging" or when progress appears to be taking "too long."

When I started recovery I felt like it would take me forever!

Worse still I always imagined that some part of me would have to stay recovery-focused for the rest of my life. After almost 11 years of bulimia and a life time of disordered eating I felt like bulimia was a fate I would never quite escape from.

As positive and determined as I was so recover, I was terrified of the time it would inevitably take and I know the majority of people in recovery can relate to those feelings.

Learning how to hold onto the bigger picture really helped me through the more challenging times of recovery, helping me to remember that in the end the time it had taken to heal would be worth every second.

Things are a lot harder when you don’t understand the bigger picture

After my first month of recovery using online bulimia treatment (in the form of The Bulimia Help Method) I was already seeing many wonderful benefits but I also continued to experience terrible insecurities. I hadn’t really given any thought to the bigger picture at that stage and so I found it hard to accept that I wouldn’t just recovery over night or within the space of a few months.

I remember the first time I read the Bulimia Help Method. It told me that I should be prepared to use structured eating for at least six months before my urges to binge would fully subside and before I could move on and learn to eat intuitively.

On top of that I read countless posts from other members of Bulimia Help who had been in recovery a lot longer than me, but who were evidently still struggling.

At times trying to contemplate the time it would take me to recover shook my confidence.  Again it all related back to the fact that I was yet to learn the art of Bigger Picture Thinking.

Learning to appreciate the bigger picture while recovering

I know in recovery we don’t like to focus on numbers or the amount of days we have been recovering because the days often don’t give a true indication of progress.

So during recovery I looked at these numbers and days in a different way, something that really helped me to start thinking about the bigger recovery picture. 

How did I do it?

One day I decided to perform a little "recovery calculation."

1. First, knowing the date of my first bulimic episode I calculated the number of days I had suffered with bulimia for. It was a pretty big number!

2. I then calculated the number of days I had been in recovery for at that point and compared the two numbers.

Somehow this seemingly random exercise inadvertently helped me to start thinking about the bigger picture for the very first time...

I had been so desperate for immediate change up until that point, but really being able to compare the vast amount of days spent being bulimic, to the small number of days spent recovering I was finally able to start seeing the bigger picture.

For such a long time I was convinced that nothing was really changing, that my progress in recovery was "too slow" and that recovery was taking "too long" but in that moment I was able to appreciate just how much progress I had made.

The number of days I had been in recovery for was only a tiny fraction of the days I had been bulimic for, but during that tiny fraction of days in recovery I had made so many changes and so much progress, I just needed to have my eyes opened to those changes.

Near the end of my recovery I did this calculation again - you can read all about my days spent recovering from bulimia by following the link.

Things are so different after the battle has been won

The strangest thing is that now I’ve made it through and have fully recovered from bulimia it feels like recovery took no time at all! (My Bulimia Recovery)

So although it can feel like recovery is taking a long time now – in the grand scheme of things it really won’t take up that much of your life.

Imagine what your life will be like when you are totally free from all of your bulimic behaviours

If that journey to a full life-long recovery takes a year or maybe even a little longer is it really that big of a deal?

Whether it’s a few months down the line, a year down the line or a even a little longer than that, when you finally escape from bulimia you will know it was more than worth every second.

During my own recovery I spent a lot of days at breaking point and losing hope but looking back I can say I would suffer them a hundred times over if it was what I needed to do to get to the place I am at in my life now. 

After suffering from bulimia for almost 11 years it took me 15 months to recover using The Bulimia Help Method - in reality that is no time at all!

Something to think about...

This week I want you to think about YOUR bigger recovery picture.

How can you help yourself to think about the bigger picture?

How can you start to acknowledge the true progress that you are making regardless of bumps in the road? 

I’d love to hear your ideas, suggestions and experiences of using bigger picture thinking in recovery!



Mouli's picture
Thanks for this useful post

Thanks for this useful post and it has given me something to think about this week In some ways it is a little scary jumping THAT far's like I question whether or not I will make it. That negative voice questions me but a new stronger positive voice tells me that I AM doing it and why should I even think of going back to that hell hole of a destructive pit.
When I think of my bigger picture I see a freedom, a freedom to be happy and to do what ever I want with no fear attached. I see an exciting time ahead with my children and family and although I don't know exactly what that entail, i know in my heart it will be good. The thought that I now actually may be ALIVE to see it all is a huge thing as i used to stress and worry that I was seriously going to kill myself as I was b/ping ALL DAY every day.
I am more willing to accept there will be difficult days to deal with but I have proved to myself in these past few weeks that I am more than capable of sorting them out without my old destructive behaviour.
I am so far enjoying and excited about this new path I am on(mostly). The one that IS leading to my recovery. And I am SO looking forward to that bigger picture

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your response Mouli! I think you're right, I rememeber before I started thinking in terms of the bigger picture, it probably had a lot to do with my fear of not making it.

It's hard when we think about how long recovery can take, but it's also equally as hard to be trapped in those thought processes where we feel like the rest of our lives will be spent struggling along trying to recover.

I am so looking forward to your bigger picture too, it's going to be more amazing than you could ever imagine :)

Catherine x

iwantlife's picture
Thanks Catherine for sharing

Thanks Catherine for sharing this! For me, this is a very timely reminder. I have a stupid week (I know i shouldn't say that but that's what it feels like right now) as I have slipped up multiple times. But not more times than normal and now I think about it, probably a few times less than before. But because I am trying to recover, I am frustrated and more so that I have given in to the urges. But actually in my head I have tried a few times to practise diffusion, and succeeded even fewer times, but it is a start!

So thanks! Because I was getting ready for the weekend with a very negative mindset but you have highlighted that the BIGGER PICTURE is what matters.
But I am so impatient!

Luni's picture
This article comes in the

This article comes in the perfect momento. I just want tos ay how much of an inspiration you are to me Katherine. I started my recovery on December 24th and went two months in aperfect recovery path, until, recently I had my first relapse, got back on track for a couple of days and then relapsed again for 3 days in a row. Yesterday I felt miserable, as a compelte failura. I´ve been having such a hard time getting back on track, specially beacuse I am still restrincting in the types of food I eat, not in the portions. Anyway, thing is, yesterday I felt waful, as if I would never be able tor ecover from this, as if everyday of a relapse is making me start from cero again. But after Reading this article, and doind the same calculations (i have also been bulimic for almost 11 years) it helped me so much to understand the progress I have done in spite of my relapses, and understand that a relapse doesn´t mean you are at the begginning again. In terms of numbers, I calculated how many days until the 15 months od recovery come for me, and I find it easier to deal with …


stoneyjewel's picture
Keeping the big picture in

Keeping the big picture in mind is powerful. I am only 50 days into recovery and yet it is difficult not to shame myself for not being further along. Reading these articles really helps me keep on keeping on.

When I look into the future I desire, I see me with more children. One of my deepest desires is to have another child but I haven't been mentally or emotionally strong enough.

Also I would love to run again. Running had been a passion of mine. I ran several half marathon and was training for a full. But from the start of bulimia I have had an on-off battle with physical issues that prevent me from doing much activity at all.. and I only purge on average once a week! Ugh!

Oops.. I got side tract. Bigger picture... I don't expect a perfect life, but feeling emotionally hijacked is a terrible thing. Mental and emotional strength during challenges would be a reward enough! .. and maybe a little girl :-)

Aneczka's picture
Thank you for this article.

Thank you for this article. It is always good to remember that there is hope and I need to be patient with me and my recovery. Sometimes when I have many b/p free days in a row I tend to forget that I am in recovery and feel recovered but then a relapse happens every 2 weeks or so and puts me back on track reminding to follow SE plan again. I really would like to learn from every relapse and continue my recovery.
A thought that I had reading your article is that a not perfect day in recovery is much much better that a day in my past when I was struggling with bulimia and had no hope to recover whatsoever. So yes, being in recovery is so much progress for me and I am very thankful for it.

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