I must have been in bulimia recovery for no longer than a week when I had my first dream about relapsing. The memory of it is hazy now, but I’ll never forget the intense feelings of fear, confusion and guilt that it caused.
I remember convincing myself that it was some kind of bad omen, that bingeing and purging in my dream meant I was about to experience a relapse in real life.
If you’ve experienced one of these dreams, or should I say nightmares, then I’m sure you can relate to those feelings.
While I tried to pull myself together and move on from that initial binge dream, I soon realized that this was just the beginning. I went on to have dreams about relapse for months, and they happened almost every night.
I’d awaken each morning crippled by guilt over the acts that I’d committed in my dreams. I wanted to recover so badly, and I thought I was doing so well, so why were these images of relapse haunting me every time I closed my eyes?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one exact cause for these types of dreams, but here are two possible explanations:
1. There is a definite consensus that dreams can be inspired by events that are happening in your life at that moment. So although you may not have experienced a relapse recently, it’s likely that you’re spending most of your waking hours focusing on recovery, which could definitely be influencing your dreams.
2. I’m sure you’ll agree that when you’re bulimic, the acts of bingeing and purging become integral to your everyday routine. So it’s only natural that the thoughts and memories of your former bulimic life will spill over into your dreams every now and then.
Not necessarily. In fact while looking for research into the links between recovery and relapse I discovered that a lot of therapists actually view dreams of relapse as hugely positive events.
Relapse dreams can be indicative of the progress that you have made in committing to your bulimia recovery, especially if you find yourself waking up feeling guilty or upset. Think about it, would you really be that devastated by an episode of relapse if you were not fully committed to recovery? A negative reaction to a bulimia dream is evidence that you truly value your recovery.
Dreaming of bingeing and purging can be a big sign that your subconscious is finally starting to process your conscious decision to recover. This is very significant because challenging those subconscious thought processes is essential to recovery.
It is possible that dreaming of relapse could indicate that something is not quite right with your recovery. Perhaps you’ve been struggling a little more than usual recently? If so then the shock of a relapse dream may allow you to reassess your current recovery plan and create some more effective recovery strategies, before a relapse happens in real life.
Although bulimia dreams can be extremely unsettling, they can actually be a really good indicator of progress. Rest assured that they will pass as you continue with your recovery.
If you're a member of Bulimia Help then why not share your own bulimia nightmare experiences below! Your words could go such a long way in helping others in recovery to come to terms with this distressing experience.
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