Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
I first began to truly pursue recovery around three and a half years ago. What’s happened since then is probably very confusing to most people. Weekly therapy visits, one month of partial ED treatment, another year of weekly therapy appointments, relapse with countless instances of near-hospitalization, worrying from parents and loved ones x1000, one week inpatient, weekly dietitian and therapy appointments, very very bad relapse, 5.5 weeks residential, weekly therapy, biweekly dietitian, weekly ED support group.
I’m sure you might be wondering why I have had to go through all of that if I chose recovery so long ago. The simplest explanation is that you don’t just get to be recovered. You have to choose recovery and live that out every single day for either the rest of your life or until it isn’t even a choice anymore.
The beauty in recovery, which also may be considered a downfall to many on the outside, is that it isn’t all or nothing. No one is required or expected to be perfect in recovery. There are good and bad days but the idea is to slowly head in an upward trend.
For me, last night was a great example of this. I have done basically everything “right” since the day I walked into treatment. I used my skills and not behaviors, ate as a whole around 95% of my meal plan, exercised only moderately. I was by no means perfect but I still prided myself in how well I was doing.
Yesterday was fine until sometime between lunch and dinner. That morning I had eaten 100%, as usual. I was dealing with negative body image thoughts and just felt off. In the afternoon I decided to have one of my cookies I baked. That moment something switched in my brain and I suddenly had fear of all types of foods. I went down to dinner but only got what used to be my normal sized meal last semester. By the time I hit pm snack and counted up my exchanges, I had hit a little over half of what I need in a day. Its unbelievable how fast these thoughts can lead to actions and send you back down that dark hole that is relapse. I am not going there, not today. Instead, I cracked open the dreaded Ensure plus and sipped away.
Today, I am continuing to make steps to avoid another slip up the next time I have such strong thoughts. I’m not letting myself feel shame or doubt over a bad day. If you think of recovery as a journey where you follow a very long and winding road, I just went off into the gravel a bit. That doesn’t mean I have to give up and start over. I’ll keep on going, one foot in front of the other.
If recovery were just a destination, you’d think some people would have reached it by now, right? Sometimes I really wish it were that easy. There isn’t some magical point where you hit recovered and never have to deal with any of this again. It is a lifelong commitment. The path has twists, turns, and setbacks unique to each person, but also love, joy, and freedom.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination. I hope you take this to heart. If you’re recovering, know you aren’t in this alone and that you are making the best choice you can for yourself, even when its hard. There may not be an end in sight, but the path you’ve chosen will lead you to a more beautiful and full life than you can ever imagine. To those of you who don’t have an eating disorder, please remember this. Be conscientious of how much work recovery takes and know that it doesn’t ever end. Keep supporting those who are in recovery, whether it be two days or ten years since they began.
What one thing would you choose to tell others about living with an eating disorder? Let me know below!