I utilize my own shared recovery experience to provide compassionate recovery care and empower clients to a life of health and wellness.
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the very beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic started. I was 16 at the time. I had no prior experience with any mental health treatment or struggles, so the diagnosis and treatment process was essentially new territory for both myself and my family. After a quick attempt at recovery from an outpatient level, it was evident that I did not have a strong grasp on my illness. This led to my first experience at inpatient treatment during my junior year of high school. Fast forward nearly four years, I have been to several different treatment centers, taken ample time off of both high school and college, tried a multitude of different modalities, and eventually had a complete 360 in my mindset, behaviors, and overall view of myself. Treatment processes are drastically different for everyone, and what works for one may not always work for another.
This is a question that I have been asked several times before, and I think there is an expectation that all of the sudden one day you will wake up and something new will spark in you. While this is definitely possible, and motivation shifts can be huge in terms of making recovery focused progress, I found it challenging for these sudden bursts of motivation to stay consistent in my mind. That being said, there was a clear shift in my behavior and attitude towards recovery. A burst of motivation that stuck with me and has continued to for many months now. For me, instead of committing to recovery, I committed to life. I began to get re-involved in the facets and nuances of life, and found a unique zest to pursue life, on my timeline.
Shame is unfortunately a really common struggle for many that suffer from eating disorders, and for me, was a catalyst to further engage with the illness. I think it is very important to vocalize these feelings to a trusted adult. From my experience, bottling them up inside only allows them to grow. Recognizing and acknowledging shame is often the first step to freeing yourself from this feeling. Once I was able to have open communication about how I was feeling and really internalized that feedback and responses I was receiving, I slowly started to shift my focus to taking pride in the progress I was making rather than dwelling on any regrets I had from the past. You can’t change the past, you can only focus on creating the best future possible for yourself, and shame certainly has no place in creating a strong future for yourself!
Undoubtedly, the biggest factor for me was finding a passion. I found something that excited me, made waking up each day worth it, and gave me a strong reason to nourish myself adequately. Another thing that was really important to my success in recovery was being open and honest with those who were supporting. I learned to feel comfortable reaching out for support, and knew that if someone on my support team felt that they couldn’t help me, they would communicate that instead of living in fear that I was a burden. Lastly, I allowed myself to enjoy food. This has honestly been one of the best parts of recovery for me thus far. Prior to my eating disorder, I was a huge foodie, and loved trying new cultural foods and restaurants with friends and family. I allowed myself to enjoy foods that I liked, not that my eating disorder convinced me that I had liked. I found pleasure in eating, began to look forward to meal times and reincorporated standard eating patterns into my life.
The eating disorder diaries is a great podcast. The episodes include conversations with individuals who have struggled and recovered from an eating disorder in addition to field professionals. I think hearing people’s voices and listening to real and raw conversations about recovery oriented topics can be extremely valuable. My other favorite resource is the book Rehabilitate, Recover, Rewire by Tabitha Farrar. This book is a lengthy one but totally worth it in my opinion- it debunks nearly every single thought that one may be struggling with if they are battling an eating disorder. Tabitha Farrar in general is awesome, so I would definitely recommend looking her up and perusing through her various resources to see if any resonate with you.
Recovery is possible. Yes, I’m talking to you specifically. There is NOTHING that makes recovery not attainable for you. It’s challenging, exhausting both mentally & physically, but I am happier than I have been in my entire life and so grateful for all of the opportunities recovery has given me.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
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