Every so often I have the pleasure of sharing with you a client’s story. (See the tag on the side of my blog: Client Spotlights). Eating disorder recovery is a long and scary road. Seeing the successes (both small and big), is a vital part of holding out hope and belief in a better life. So thank you Jess for sharing what you’ve learned along your path. Your willingness to share your journey is inspiring. And no one should go it alone. If you are interested in reading Jess’ full story, check out her pro-recovery blog.
One year ago I entered recovery for my eating disorder, and it has been quite the year with many ups and downs. At the end of it, however, I am so grateful for every moment. I have learned and grown more than I ever thought possible.
Since a year ago, so much has changed in my life for the better. My eating habits are not the only aspect of my life that has changed- my entire outlook is more positive and I am a happier and healthier person overall. Recovery is about so much more than learning to eat normally- it is about learning to truly live and embrace life. It is about discovering one’s personal, healthy identity beyond an illness that takes on a life of its own. It is about learning to believe that “I am enough and I am beautiful just the way I am”.
My biggest accomplishment in recovery thus far is not being in denial about my illness and at the same time recognizing that it does not define me. In the past year I have discovered who I am separate from my eating disorder, and I like who I am. As I have learned to stop restricting food, I have learned to stop restricting other aspects of life as well. For example, I no longer restrict friendships, fun, or emotions. I know how to let myself feel my emotions without letting them overwhelm me, I have incredibly rewarding relationships with my friends and family, and I have learned to relax and embrace spontaneity in a way that I never thought possible.
We all know that recovery is not all about the food and the body, but in terms of the food and the body, I have made significant strides. After one year of recovery:
* I have the desire and capability to follow a meal plan.
* I am no longer Anemic or otherwise deficient in vitamins and minerals.
* I do not count calories.
* I do not over-exercise.
* I can find clothes that I feel confident in.
* Many former fear foods are foods that I love and eat guilt-free.
* I have discovered new types of food that I love.
* I am able to recognize hunger and tolerate fullness.
* I don’t weigh myself.
* I get my period every month.
* I am able to recognize that fat is not a feeling.
* I know my triggers and how to combat them.
* I love dining out at restaurants.
I did not accomplish all of the above on my own. I have been very fortunate to have the support of an amazing treatment team. It took me awhile to find a team that I am comfortable with, but the trial-and-error with various clinicians was worth it. Also, DBT has helped me a lot. I no longer feel powerless to recover, because now I have the tools necessary to kick some serious ED butt anytime, anywhere!
Although I consider recovery a gift, it has not been sunshine and rainbows the whole time. I had countless days of ambivalence where I questioned, “Is recovery truly worth it? Because this is so much more painful than my eating disorder ever was!” Recovery has not been easy, but I have found that nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. In the beginning it is incredibly painful to give up eating disorder behaviors, but slowly, over time, it gets easier.
Today, I can say today with complete sincerity that the benefits of recovery are worth the struggle. I have my ups and downs, as is a natural part of the recovery process, but I know that someday I will be fully recovered. There is no way I am going to let some life-sucking illness take control of my life ever again, because I deserve to grow, thrive, and enjoy life to its fullest. I can fully recover with hard work and perseverance, and so can you!