5 Truths I Learned in Eating Disorder Recovery
In the context of peer support, I'm often asked about what eating disorder recovery means to me and how I 'got' here. Basically, I'm asked to sort of summarize the most important thoughts I went through while battling the disease; or now, looking back on it. I'm happy to share with you readers some of my most personal truths discovered along the way; things I know for sure about myself and about what my recovery was like, and also in regards to how I feel about my history with bulimia.
Eating Disorder Recovery Is Not 'Comfortable'
Every single day for the last 6 years, my former eating disorder has been on my mind one way or another, and that's a good thing. In my early recovery days, I was in constant survival mode, but in the last while; perhaps for the last couple of years, I've been focusing on making sure I stay recovered. Perhaps an eating disorder is a form of mental illness one might never fully, (100-percent) get rid of, but there is a big difference between discovering oneself while fighting back the urge to self-harm, and making the choice to no longer allow bulimia to be an active part of one’s life. (read: Recovering From Bulimia vs Recovered From Bulimia)
Eating Disorder Triggers Aren't Always Avoidable
Eating disorder triggers can come from anywhere, a party, a social gathering, or even when you are alone. When that trigger finds you, you may end up alone, as I sometimes was. As I progressed in my recovery and grew stronger, those times I found myself crying alone were because I was thankful I made it through without giving into a relapse. If this happens to happen to you, then perhaps for the first time, you only have yourself to congratulate for making it through a difficult time, because it means that you are enough for yourself, and that’s empowering.
Listening to the Voice in Your Mind is Entirely Optional
...but it takes some time to realize that! I know my former eating disorder is lying when it tries to creep back into my thoughts; I know it's playing tricks on me, and I know it's not real. Perhaps all of us who are recovering from an eating disorder know this on some level, yet we decide to play into what I call the 'insanity' of it sometimes. Once you can conquer your eating disorder's voice, you'll see how much more simple life becomes. Your everyday choices, relationships, and career become much more 'honest'. This is because recovery means in part you know how to stand up for yourself against the bully in your mind.
Experiencing An Identity Shift Is Scary
Who am I without my eating disorder? Without thoughts of food, self-harm, the need to control and restrict, and the low self-esteem- surrounding my body and self-worth consuming me; I lost who I was. Then, with all the work I did in therapy and on my own, along with the help of peer support, I realized I could be stronger than all of that negativity. Today, I am proud that I overcame my demons and became a survivor of a mental illness that kills. The rest? The fact that I'm a wife, a daughter, a friend, a young professional; all of that, to a certain extent, doesn't come close to that first title, and the people in my life who love me know it.
Above All You Will Learn To Trust Yourself
Going through an eating disorder is up there on the toughest things you’ll ever do. So now, when other events or people, which have nothing to do with my recovery, disappoint or shake my faith, I always have my experience as a pillar of strength. (Learning to Trust Myself in Eating Disorder Recovery) Having survived, I always come back to the fact that not only is my heart resilient, but I'm also confident I will never experience pain or loss as profound as what my eating disorder took away from me. Once you can look at yourself in a mirror and know that you won the battle against yourself, there is no fear left to conquer. I don’t think anyone could ever make me feel the way the bully in my mind did; and from that, I know that no matter how bad it can get, every day has something worth living for.
Eating disorder recovery is a lifelong process. I'm making my way into it, now by ensuring that I stay recovered, and these 5 truths are crucial to me in this process. What are some of your 'truths'? I'd love for you to share them by leaving some comments!
Lemoine, P. (2013, December 17). 5 Truths I Learned in Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivinged/2013/12/5-truths-i-learned-in-eating-disorder-recovery
Author: Patricia Lemoine
Thanks for your post! Eating disorders are so difficult to overcome, very much like sex addiction in some ways as abstinence isn't a viable. It's such a struggle, I still act out with food now every so often, 15 years after recovery from drink and drugs. Hats off to you xx
Really good honest post. My friend suffers from ED and is in recovery now. She goes to meetings etc but always tells me how difficult she is finding it. Its early days for her (3 months) but hopefully she will stick it out. Thanks for a great blog it helps me understand whats going on for her.
I really appreciate your kind words about my writing.
Support is so important. I'm happy she has you to help her throughout her journey.
Feel free to connect here or go through Jess's posts or mine. Thanks & good luck to your friend!
The third point is very important and I'm glad you brought it up. It's not just important from an ED perspective, but with regards to other disorders with persistent intrusive thoughts. Learning that one doesn't have to listen and that one can even talk back is such a big deal.
Thanks for another insightful post.
Thank you for your reply, Andrea. It took me a long time to realize that too, about #3. I still need some reminders now and then.