”I seem to burst into tears much more frequently since starting recovery. How long does it take for the emotional mood swings to stop?”
Firstly, I want to reassure you that it is ** very common to experience an increase in bulimia recovery mood swings** at the start of your recovery.
I remember bursting into tears all of the time at first too, but the important thing to know is that this is not a sign of weakness, or a reflection on your ability to cope without your eating disorder long term.
It is simply a natural, and temporary part of the healing process.
As I’m sure you already know, most bulimics learn to use their eating disorders as a way to mask and numb painful emotions, so it makes sense that when you start to live without bulimia for the very first time, life is going to feel especially painful.
The good news is that most people find any erratic mood swings and increases in anxiety and depression lessen naturally within the first 2-3 months of recovery.
However, in the mean time there are definitely some solid practical steps I would suggest for reducing the severity of the mood swings that you’re experiencing:
1. Start to prioritize sleep.
Researchers from the University of Berkley discovered that when we get enough sleep (around 6-8 hours each night) the reactivity in the amygdala (the part of our brain that processes emotion) is reduced, resulting in an increase in our ability to deal with highly emotional situations in more rational ways the following day.
When applied to recovery, this finding would suggest that when we begin to prioritize sleep we’ll be less moody, less irritated and less overwhelmed by unwanted emotions.
2. Schedule some daily down time.
Even if you are the busiest person in the world with an endless to-do list, if you’re going to make it through recovery in once piece then you absolutely need to begin scheduling time for rest and relaxation into your daily routine.
Stress hormones and tiredness are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to erratic mood swings, so try to block off at least 30 minutes (or longer if you can) of ‘you’ time each day.
Read a book, go for a walk, meditate, take a long hot bubble bath – do whatever you can to wind down and relax.
3. Eat more ‘mood-boosting’ foods
The best way to ensure you’re getting adequate levels of nutrition during recovery is to eat a wide variety of foods from all of the main food groups.
However increasing certain foods, such as those rich in tryptophan, may have a positive impact on your overall mood.
Trytophan is an amino acid found in tons of foods such as turkey, cottage cheese, tuna, mackerel, avocados, pineapple, spinach, potatoes, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chick peas, brown rice and oats.
Although Tryptophan is just one of the nine essential proteins needed for your brain to function properly, its role in serotonin production means it is an essential part of any recovery diet.
Several research studies have also indicated a strong link between adding extra tryptophan to recovery meal plans and a reduction in both mood problems and binge urges, so it’s really a win-win situation!
4. Most importantly of all, remember to treat yourself with compassion and understanding.
Probably one of the most powerful steps you can take right now while you’re experiencing erratic mood swings is to accept and embrace them as part of your recovery.
I know you don’t want to feel this way, I know that you may even feel embarrassed or ‘crazy’ when you’re pushed to tears over the smallest of things, but what you need to realize is that you are going through some epically painful changes right now.
You are facing fears that have trapped you for years, you are turning your back on a life that only served to hurt you, and you are choosing recovery. It’s okay to feel hurt and it is okay to cry if you need to.
Give yourself a big emotional hug today and the next time you’re experiencing a low mood try to offer yourself the same level of compassion an understanding as you would offer to a friend.
I really hope this has helped to answer your question today, and that the additional suggestion I’ve provided will be helpful.
Remember, now that you’ve started your journey towards recovery you are already well on your way to becoming the happiest and healthiest version of yourself.
In health and love,
Catherine Liberty, Recovery Coach