What is recovery? (eating disorders)
A study previously carried out by an eating disorder charity conducted research across the UK and beyond asking individuals with current or previous experience of an eating disorder - 'What is recovery?'.
Here are some of the things people mentioned:
- Admitting you have a problem.
- Being ‘ok’.
- Not worry about numbers on the scale.
- More confidence.
- Enjoy eating with other people.
- Adapting to change.
- Liking/accepting yourself.
- Trusting yourself.
- Being able to express yourself in a healthy way.
- Not being invisible.
- Being able to grab your dreams.
- Get your ‘sparkle’ back.
- Developing meaningful relationships.
- Good/balanced nutrition.
- Accepting you can be good enough, not perfect.
- At peace with yourself.
- Not thinking about food all the time.
- Improved concentration.
- More mentally/emotionally stable.
- Being able to relax.
- Seeing 'failure' as an opportunity/learning.
- Being good to your body.
- Realising there are other important things in life.
- Physically healthier.
- Being able to do things you missed because of eating disorder.
- Able to tackle other health issues.
- Being able to sleep better.
- Feeling connected with other people.
- Not being restricted.
- Think/look after other problems.
- Not feeling guilty.
- Deal with problems in a ‘healthy’ way.
- Taking responsibility.
- Being able to ask for help/support and knowing and feeling it is ok to do so.
Notice how many of these things don't even mention food, showing that eating disorders are much more that about food and eating. Recovery means much more.
What does recovery mean for you? What do you think about when you consider recovery? Make a note of what recovery means for you. This can act as a beneficial reminder, especially when dealing with challenges and finding change difficult. Recovery is difficult, painful and distressful, but it is worth it in the end.
Recovery is absolutely possible! The key to recovery is to take small steps at a time and not to expect too much to change all at once. Recovery has a snowballing effect: once you make a change somewhere, it often initiates change elsewhere. Recovery is about making changes step-by-step, in your own time, about seeing mistakes or setbacks not as failure, but as learning opportunities.
Recovery can happen if you let it in - it takes time, don't rush it. It took a long time for your eating disorder to develop, and you may have an eating disorder for a long time, so it's not a surprise that recovery takes time too. Be patient, believe that you can do it. I did it, our Recovery Representatives did and many of services users are experiencing recovery right now - you can do it too! You really can!
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About Alexandra O'Brien
Integrative Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, Psychology Practitioner, Counselling Skills Trainer, Group Facilitator, General Trainer, Clinical Supervisor (in-training).