The journal – an ally in eating disorder recovery

The journal – an ally in eating disorder recovery

A Christmas gift of a journal when I was 11 years old began a lifetime love of journaling. We bonded immediately and the journal became my best friend. Writing a journal helped me to not only survive but also to recover from my eating disorder. So it is, that every December, I feel excited at the prospect of choosing a new journal for the coming year. The size, the feel and look of the cover, the smell of the pages, their quality – and the ultimate summing up, ‘is this the book I want to be my pal for the coming year?’ Choosing a journal is really, really special.

Unlike the clinician or therapist who may be available for a face-to-face, one-hour appointment once a week, the journal is available at all times to confide in and share concerns. No wonder it becomes an ally in regaining our sense of self.

Which brings me to The Ritteroo Journal, a workbook combining textual and graphic inspiration with plenty of space for writing. Written by eating disorders expert Lindsey Hall, the book has six categories for self-exploration: relationships, thoughts, feelings, heart, body, and recovery.

I would have found The Ritteroo Journal ever so helpful for my recovery journey and I am sure it will become a best friend, confidante and source of comfort and inspiration for people striving to overcome an eating disorder illness today.

We cannot connect with others when illness denies us connection with our self. Books like The Ritteroo Journal can help us on our way.

The story behind this book makes it doubly beautiful. Mary Anne Ritter, who died in recovery, in 2002, and whose artwork graces the pages throughout, must surely be smiling from Above, knowing that Lindsey Cohn has honored her life struggle, and her vision, and is keeping her spirit alive to help others in this creative and meaningful way.

The Ritteroo Journal adds to the call for more evidence-based research that gives ‘voice’ to the experience of eating disorder patients. Giving the The Ritteroo Journalperson with the eating disorder a ‘voice’ through journaling allows them to release their ‘evidence of lived experience’ and become an active participant in their own recovery.

Carolyn Costin, in the Foreword, writes about the importance of journaling – acknowledging its role in her own life struggles, and of the beneficial impact it has in the lives of her clients. Carolyn writes:

‘The use of journals and writing to discover one’s inner secrets and give voice to ones soul had a profound and lasting impact on my recovery. I can no longer remember a time when writing didn’t occupy a part of my day.’

Yichelle, recovering from Anorexia Nervosa, provides this review of The Ritteroo Journal:

  • This is an excellent book for people who are starting on recovery as it concretes thoughts on why you want to recover.
  • It also helps you to look at your progress and changing relationship with the eating disorder. It helps you develop an honest relationship with your self. It makes you think about you, your self, your relationship with the eating disorder, your fears.
  • The bottom line is you have to be true to your self when writing these things down. They are for you to see only; not for other people to see.
  • Writing in the journal helps to consolidate the thoughts and feelings going on in your mind. You can take some of the things that are external for you and make them private – for example, conversations you may have had with a friend about your eating disorder and you may not have been entirely honest, but with this journal you can be your true honest self in a private place. You don’t need to worry about being judged or meeting the expectations of society.
  • Having a private journal, you can be the real you. There is no pressure to be someone you are not.
  • The little headings and quotes provoke you to think and get your brain going to think about each area of recovery and I can see how this journal would also work well with an accompanying diary in which you can elaborate.

Yichelle’s favourite quotes in The Ritteroo Journal:

‘Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to give myself a gold star for being ordinary, and maybe one of these days I’ll give myself a gold star for being extraordinary – for persisting. And maybe one day I won’t need a star at all’.

– Sue Bender

Yichelle: For me, this quote seems about self-acceptance at every stage of life. You don’t have to keep pushing and feel like you must achieve more.


‘Struggling means that you’re fighting something, that you’re not just sitting there and taking it or giving in.’

– Arielle Lee Blair

Yichelle: Struggling can be really hard, but this quote says that even though it can be hard, you are not giving in, you are putting up a fight, and this means you are not letting the eating disorder win.

‘When you become more able to tune into your body and the signals it gives you, you begin to have more comfort and ease with having a physical form. You’ll also notice that body sensations are often connected to emotions. Be patient with yourself. Body awareness takes time, and you are unfolding. Honor the process and honor yourself for making the effort.’

–       Mary Anne Ritter

Yichelle: This helps me understand the importance of listening to what my body needs rather than what my mind or illness wants. Reading these words helps me to eat my meals. It is a good reminder that our body does need nourishment and care. You can’t keep inflicting abuse that the ED dictates you to do. It helps me see this.

‘Body love doesn’t mean creating the perfect body; rather it means living happily in an imperfect one.’

– Rita Freedman

Yichelle: This is about accepting yourself and being happy – helps you to accept the body you were born with is the one you are meant to have. There is no such thing as perfection.

The Ritteroo Journal-1Important, Are You Ready to Fight?

To be able to embrace the quotes within The Ritteroo Journal, you need to have reached an attitude that you want to do something to fight your eating disorder and regain the real you.

I’m guessing that if you are reading this article, you are feeling this way, that you have this exact attitude. You want your self back, right? You want to be free to be the real you. The Ritteroo Journal will help you on your way – don’t wait until January 1st, 2014. Start NOW.

This journal will add to a fresh arrow in your bow in your bid to develop your sense of self, and regain your identity.

Such a gift is priceless.

* The Ritteroo Journal, by Lindsey Cohn. To get your copy, click here.

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