When I began my recovery process, I had absolutely no intention of recovering. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s the truth. My recovery from my eating disorder began when I was sent home in the middle of my sophomore year of college, and 3 years later, the journey continues. I cannot articulate how incredible, in ways both good and bad, this journey has been. But I am also so incredibly grateful for my eating disorder because going through the years of recovery that I have, has in fact shaped me into the person I am today.
There are many things about me that remain unchanged, such as my anxiety, my depression, my obsession with the need to be better than amazing… The difference now, though, is that my health is finally at a good and consistent place, and my perspective on life has completely changed. There’ve been plenty of challenges, and therefore even more rewards. I think there was a part of me, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time, that always believed I could face recovery…and it has kept me going through everything my eating disorder has thrown at me. Ed tried to destroy me, but I refused to let it succeed.
What is your definition of recovery?
I’ve learned through my own recovery process that everyone’s definition of recovery is different, and I believe every definition is valid. However, mine would have to be this (now it’s lengthy, but bear with me):
Recovery isn’t about looking in the mirror and loving what you see. Recovery is being able to look in the mirror and say, “I may not completely love myself today, but I will try my absolute hardest to fully love at least one thing about myself. I accept that I am a work in progress.”
Recovery is allowing yourself to feel every emotion, and ride its wave. Recovery is accepting that hard days will happen. Recovery is about understanding that there’s a big difference between having feelings and acting on them. Recovery isn’t about being brave enough to step on a scale again—it’s about accepting that your self-worth, and happiness aren’t determined by the number one.
Recovery is walking through the fire, even when your whole body trembles with fear. Recovery is choosing life over whatever the eating disorder decides to throw at you, no matter how loud or convincing it is. Recovery is about, more than anything, learning to accept the imperfections.
What is your favorite recovery quote or resource?
Quote: It may seem dauntingly impossible in the moment, but Walk Through the Fire. Embrace the fear and let it fuel you to prove Ed wrong.
Book: Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Back by Shannon Cutts
Film: Demi Lovato: Stay Strong (a documentary film starring singer/actress Demi Lovato as she tells the story of her own recovery process)
If you could go back in time and talk to your former self when you were struggling most, what would you tell them?
First of all, you are beautiful. And don’t even bother arguing with me on that. I am old—so I know things. Listen, I know that everything seems hopeless and pointless and not worth the ridiculously hard work, but it most certainly IS.
There are going to be moments when you completely doubt your strength…but instead of wallowing in your negativity, open yourself up to the possibility that it really is going to get better. However, it is only possible if you learn to accept that you don’t have to be perfect; and you certainly don’t have to be perfect at recovery. This isn’t a race, and this isn’t something you need to prove yourself for. This is about your life, and your health…until the eating disorder no longer has a say in your food intake or exercise plan, you will never be in control. You don’t believe it right now, but you really are worthy of recovery.
You are worthy of happiness. You don’t need to live your life in fear and anger anymore—you can and will beat this. You really are a beautiful person. Feel everything, and regret nothing. Every experience is a chance to learn more about yourself, and how to love yourself fully.
You can do this, and you will do this. Finally, and I cannot stress this enough:
IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH, WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU ARE CREATIVELY AND EMOTIONALLY FULFILLED AS A HUMAN BEING.
You are love, and you are loved. And there is nothing you aren’t capable of doing.
Written by: Sky