I recently interviewed individuals who are in recovery in to shed some light on this complex and highly misunderstood process. Here’s what they said:
What do you wish you knew before starting recovery?
“For a long time, I thought recovery was more based on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight again. I was only focused on the physical aspect. Several years after achieving a healthy weight, I began to realize how mentally and emotionally scarred I still was. True recovery starts with healing mentally and emotionally.”
“At first I thought there would be a perfect way to recover and that it would be a fast process. In reality, everyone’s recover is different because we are all different people with unique paths.”
“Eating disorders are so isolating so it’s important to reach out and let others help you and go out and do things that you know you enjoy even though your eating disorder might have convinced you that you don’t.”
“You don’t learn how to recover overnight. It takes so many mess-ups, dips, and turns in order to learn and adapt to what you need to do. Unfortunately it takes a lot of trial and error and a lot of patience because those habits didn’t develop over night.”
“It takes a conscious effort each day to choose recovery in order to get better.”
“I didn’t think it would be so painful-physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.”
“What I didn’t know was how hard it would be to let go of habits I’ve held on to for so long. There is freedom in surrender and not being a slave to the food I eat.”
“For me, the hardest part about recovery is balancing positivity and denial. There have been moments where I’ve finally felt normal and have been able to convince myself that I “no longer have a problem.” However, in reality sets in real quick when you find yourself having an emotional breakdown after seeing all of the calorie totals on a drive-thru menu. Needless to say the recovery process is humbling.”
“Eating disorders affect our friends and family more than we would like to admit. Likewise, recovery not only takes a toll on us, but also on those closest to us.”
What advice do you have for those in recovery?
“Letting people into your recovery journey is HARD and can be scary, but it’s the best thing you can do. Find safe people who will sit with you, listen to you, laugh with you, and eat with you. Practice being honest and vulnerable even in the messy moments. It’s so much easier to win battles when you let others fight with you.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. There are so many ways that we change and can celebrate little victories but we never give ourselves credit for those things. Those victories help move us along and keep us in a place where we are practicing recovery.”
“Don’t compare yourself- with people in recovery and/or people who have recovered. We have to remember that we all have our own recovery and there will always be people better off and worse off than you so you just have to choose to keep continuing to love yourself and work toward what you need to do and use those people to inspire you rather than discourage you.”
“Do the next right thing.”
“Find the things that motivate you to keep going in recovery and hold on tight to those things. Make a list of what motivates you and keep it with you at all times. Read over your list often- especially when things feel hard.”
“Don’t dwell on the past. If you make a mistake, that’s okay. Show yourself grace, learn from it, and move on. One mistake doesn’t have to ruin an entire day.”
“Show yourself the same compassion that you would show the 5-year-old version of you.”
What gives you hope?
“What gives me a lot of hope is the Lord putting family & friends in my life who genuinely care enough to say something and to pray for me. I can honestly say though, without the Lord & walking with him, I could not have any real hope.”
“The glimpses into a normal life give me hope, whether it be going out to eat with friends or choosing to eat lunch even when it’s the last thing I want to do. The victories give me hope that I will one day be victorious-fully recovered.”
“What gives me hope is knowing that I am more than my eating disorder. The more I separate from ED, the more hope I have.”
“What gives me hope is seeing people who have done recovery and are winning. I find so much strength from other recovery warriors. It’s easy to get caught up and feel like you’re just running in place, but when I see other people who have pushed past their own barriers I know I can push through mine. I know there is freedom and a life past this.”