Life After Eating Disorder Treatment- Back to Work Part 11

Dear Readers,

This is Part 11 of Life After Eating Disorder Treatment. After the treatment, you need to work on coping skills and managing your day-to-day stressors as well as building a life that will keep you sane and healthy and away from the Demon of ED. Recovery is not easy and it may seem like your life is turned upside down as your illness may have forced you to take a lengthy absence from work or has contributed you to being less productive at work.  Work often plays one of the largest roles in shaping our perceptions of ourselves and if we have been absent for some time due to ED the fact that we are not working often adds to our feelings of a lack of self-worth. However, once we are on the right road to recovery, going back to work is often one of the most important factors in speeding up our return to full health. It provides us with a support network and is an opportunity to regain our sense of self-esteem and puts some routine and stability back into our lives.


I hope Information below will help you to gain better understanding of Going back to work and coping with stresses at work.


After people have finished their treatment, they often expect to go back to work straight away. Their family and friends may share this feeling. However, everybody reacts differently and some people may not want to go back to their old job. Eating Disorders are a debilitating condition and can have a powerful emotional effect long after the treatment has ended. Many people find they need to take some time after their treatment is finished, to adjust to what has happened and rethink what they really want to do in life.

Because of this there is tremendous variation in how quickly people go back to their jobs. Some can’t wait, as to them it represents a major step on the road back to a normal life, and is a sign they have overcome their ED. Some people have no choice but to start earning money again as soon as possible. Other people find their priorities have changed and they need time to rethink their lives. Some people, of course, manage to continue working throughout their out-patient treatment, some from home, some part-time and some full-time (depending on severity of your ED and treatment you’re seeking).

However, for many people, going back to work is a major milestone in their recovery: it signals a return to how they lived before their illness, helps to distract them from any worries they may have about their health, and brings structure and security back to their life.

Before returning to work, it is worth considering how you would like to deal with your colleagues. Some people going back to work after ED can feel disappointed and isolated.

Occupational Health Services

Many companies have an occupational health service for their employees, which can offer support  in various ways to people returning to work. Some are able to rearrange work times to avoid stressful times such as rush hours. Sometimes, part-time work can be arranged to ease you back into your job, that’s what I did and still do.

Occupational health departments may also offer counseling, both before and after your return to work, which is completely confidential.

If You can no Longer do your Job

An employer who believes that a person’s absence from, or irregular attendance at, work is having a negative effect on the organisation, can dismiss that person if employee is not capable of doing the work for which they are employed.

Dismissal for this reason can be taken to an industrial tribunal if the employee has worked for the employer for one year continuously. However, under the Disability Discrimination Act 2010 employers may have to justify the dismissal of a person with ED. The Equality Act 2010 says you mustn’t be discriminated against because of your disability. There are some types of physical and mental conditions which might be treated as a disability under the Equality Act depending on the effect they have on your daily life. Eating Disorders is one of them.


Finding a New Job

Now this is the most tricky part and very complex as well. If you gave up your job and want to work again, you will need to think about what to tell future employers about your illness.

If a job application form, or the person who interviews you, asks for details about any condition which may affect your ability to do the job in question, YOU MUST ANSWER HONESTLY. If it was discovered you had not given information about the fact that you had ED, your employer could dismiss you for false answers. However, under the Disability Discrimination Act 2010, employers cannot refuse to offer a person a job solely because that person has had ED.

Honestly, God helps you, if your mind is still stuck in ED limbo. You will struggle to perform daily tasks. I’ve been through that, and it’s horrible.

You will need to prepare truthful answers that emphasis the success of your treatment, and your ability to do the job you have applied for.

It is helpful to take some time to think about your previous jobs, your achievements and your experience, so that you can present those in most positive way. I had a book of recipes to show them. You are still the same person, and there’s no reason, why you should  be any less efficient, unless your travelling to work with demon of ED as your sole companion.


Developing Positive Coping Strategies

Employment is about much more than making a living. The satisfaction and security of work contribute to positive self-esteem, and being part of a work team can help foster a sense of belonging.
Working out the right coping strategies to help you handle different situations can be tough, but it’s worth it.  Note that many of these strategies can be put into action before you ever set foot in your workplace or schedule your first job interview.  When you are playing an active role in your own well-being and maintaining the proper perspective on your situation, you will find it easier to bring out your very best in the work world.

On-the-Job Strategies- Taken from UM depression tool kit

Consider adopting the following strategies to improve your outlook and performance on the job:

Don’t let work take precedence over recovery.  Work is important, but it is only one aspect of your life.  Even on the busiest of days, remember that recovery is your top priority. Your treatment plan and the self-care strategies you employ each day should not take a back seat to the immediate concerns and demands of the workday.

Any time we feel those negative emotions come up, it’s a voice from deeper within ourselves asking to be heard. 

Remember what’s important about work.  It is rare to find a job that doesn’t involve challenging people, deadlines, difficult assignments and other stressors.  At times when work feels overwhelming, try to focus on the positive reasons why you work, including financial independence and security, personal satisfaction and the sense of community or belonging that comes from contributing to a team effort.

Don’t set yourself up by expecting perfection.  You will face disappointments, make mistakes, and encounter obstacles at work – everyone does.  Adjust your attitude and expectations about yourself and your work, knowing that problems are inevitable in any job.

Take Breaks and this is so so Important

I always always take breaks at work. Research indicates that taking breaks can decrease stress hormones, increase dopamine and other feel-good chemicals, and strengthen the neural connections that aids memory and executive functions.

This is How I Work:

Work for 50 Mins

Have a 10 Min Break

Work for 50 Mins

Have a 30 Mins Break

Repeat Throughout the Day till It’s time to Go Home

Don’t let the past define today or tomorrow.  Realize that problems caused by your symptoms in the past will not necessarily repeat themselves, especially if you have a working treatment plan in place. Just because ED once caused you to miss a crucial deadline doesn’t mean you are unreliable.  Give yourself credit for the progress you are making, and permission to start over.

Develop symptom-specific strategies.  To help you keep focused on the future instead of the past, make sure to learn all you can about your illness and your specific symptoms. Take a close look at the symptoms that have tripped you up in the past, and develop specific strategies for countering each of them.  For example, if unplanned meal, a social get together can lead to your anxiety/stress and can make it hard to concentrate on work project, it might be helpful toconfide in a boss or a trustee about your struggle, and ask for extra help/time to perform the essential functions of the job.

If New Project is putting you under stress, break work assignments into smaller, more manageable steps that can be completed in shorter timeframes.


Do Not Compromise on Your Meal Plan/Calorie Intake. Eating the right foods can improve your memory, lift your mood and help you concentrate for longer. Simply ensuring an adequate and steady calorie intake throughout the day is therefore the first step to keeping focused and alert. TOP TIP: Eating regularly – three meals and three snacks a day – helps you to concentrate. Snack on walnuts and seeds.

Keep in mind that politics and personalities are part of working.  When you work with other people (and most of us do!), differing agendas, conflicting priorities and interpersonal conflict can’t be avoided. They do not need to derail your efforts to recover or cause you to retreat back to ED behaviours.

Don’t go it alone“You have to lean into the wind.” It is difficult to juggle a full work schedule while also meeting everyone’s expectations at home.  When you also need to find time and energy to devote to managing your ED, it can be overwhelming.  Examine your daily or weekly schedule and look for activities, both at home and at work, that could be delegated to others.  Involving coworkers in shared responsibilities, asking family members to help with chores, or reaching out to a friend to provide a “sounding board” for your ideas and concerns are all good strategies for accomplishing your goals without sacrificing your emotional health and recovery.


There is no better day than today to start living the life you want. Don’t let your ED derail your plans.






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