Note: This is NOT a review of Demi Lovato’s documentary “Simply Complicated.” This piece discusses my experience watching it & the positive impact it had on my recovery.
Content Warning: eating disorder behaviors
About a week ago the inspirational Demi Lovato came out with a very honest and raw documentary. As most of you know I am very much a fan of Demi Lovato, and I absolutely loved her documentary. I was so appreciative of how authentic she was during the entire film, and how real of a connection that allowed people to have with her. But as I said, this is not a review of her documentary.
As I watched Simply Complicated I was overwhelmed with tears during several parts. While I truly loved the film and absolutely plan to watch it again, there was one part that stood out to me the most.
Demi shared that she doesn’t feel as though she has fully conquered her eating disorder. She talked about various relapses, and then she said, “The less I have to think about food, the easier it is for me to go about having a normal life.” Demi continued, “I don’t wanna let anybody down. So when I do have moments where I slip up, I feel very ashamed.”
During that part, I instantly felt connected to her all over again. Demi has been someone that I have looked up to as a role model for quite some time, and in particular with her recovery from an eating disorder. I have been so amazed by her progress over the years, and it has really inspired me to feel like I too can be in control of my own eating disorder. For the most part, I am, but one thing I have been too ashamed to tell anyone other than my mom is that very recently I relapsed.
I had my 1-year mark of being behavior free in early September, and then about two weeks ago I binged. I was honestly in denial about it for at least a few days. I knew in my heart that I relapsed, and I knew that was okay. I knew that didn’t make me a failure. I knew that didn’t erase all of my progress, but I also knew that I had never gone that long being behavior free, and to have a slip was significant.
It took me a week before I even told my mom that I had relapsed. She’s my best friend, and I tell her everything, but I didn’t want to tell her this. I didn’t want her to get really concerned, and think that I was falling apart because I knew that I wasn’t. However, I also knew that I needed to be honest and admit it to someone. I haven’t binged since that night, so now I’m a little over two weeks behavior free. I’m not proud that I relapsed, but I am proud of how I handled it.
I knew that the main cause of my binge was stress. I wasn’t passing a couple of my classes, and that has never been an issue for me before. Usually, I stress myself out because I want to maintain my 4.0 GPA, but right now all I care about is passing. I felt stuck, and I kept trying to tell myself that I knew how to handle it when in reality I didn’t. I was trying to be independent and not seek help, but when I broke down and binged… that was a major wake up call for me.
The next day I met with an academic counselor, and I talked to some of my professors. I remember falling asleep crying the night that I binged. I remember telling myself that I needed to ask for help because clearly, I wasn’t handling things well. So that’s exactly what I did, and since then I have brought up my grades. I have changed my study habits and gotten into a way better routine. I genuinely feel happy and in control once again.
Prior to watching Simply Complicated, I was still in denial about my relapse. Seeing Demi share various relapses so openly really helped me come to terms with what had happened to me. It helped remind me that it really was okay to have a slip and that more often than not that is a part of recovery. It also brought me comfort in that I wasn’t the only one who felt ashamed of a slip because I didn’t want to let people down.
I am extremely thankful for Demi Lovato, and how much she has helped me through my recovery. If you would like to watch her inspiring documentary, I have put the link below. I will say that it is very raw, and could potentially trigger people, so use caution with that, but it is also incredible and I highly recommend it.
For anyone that needed to hear it today (or will at some point) –
Relapses do not make you a failure.
Relapses do not erase all of your progress.
Recovery is not linear; it has bumps in the road and that is OKAY.
Learn from your relapses. Ask yourself what happened, and how you can work on preventing it from happening again.
Do some self-care and be gentle with yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!! That is nothing to be ashamed of.
Take a deep breath, and trust that you are strong enough to get through this.
For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237 or click to chat. In crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer from Crisis Text Line.