Recovery from an eating disorder is unlike any other form of recovery. We cannot just say no in the way we would if we were coming off alcohol or drugs. Saying no to food is what got many of us here in the first place. One of the immense challenges of recovery is that to get well, we must learn to eat. What was once our enemy, must now become an ally. We must learn to work together and even love each other.
Getting better from an eating disorder is not merely ingesting, and digesting food. It is not just going out for a meal (important a step though that is) because what use is it to eat if the battle raging in our heads is so big, so loud and so incessant that we remain captives on the inside? Ultimately it is only when we are free in our heads and hearts that our relationship with food can flourish. Ergo, the head space and energy that food and all that surrounds it takes up is a far better indicator of where we’re at in recovery than any number on a scale, any BMI or any evidence of public eating.
Recovery is also not exponential. We can’t plot it neatly on a graph. It’s far more fluid than that. It’s up and down, forwards and backwards. There might be relapses. But generally, we are moving forwards in the right direction. We are aiming and looking for freedom not mere survival.
I’ve had my share of relapses in my life, some bigger than others. But I finally knew I was really better when I realised that food and all its related issues didn’t crowd my thought life. When the seed of comparative thinking comes into our heads, when self-doubt makes an appearance, when perfectionism rears its ugly head, it is up to us not to give those thoughts life and to shut them down. There are so many other things to spend our mental energy on and so much more of what life has to offer for us all to enjoy.
Pictured below: Carolina, the author.