ED Q&A: How Has Recovery Changed Your Life?
We recently asked people in recovery from an eating disorder to share their thoughts about the illness. We hope these insights from those who have "been there" help if you're seeking answers and understanding. A big thanks to everyone who contributed to this post and to all the supportive friends and family out there.
These are personal perspectives; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.
Today's question: How has recovery changed your life?
I have learned how to live -- like, really live. I'm still working through some things, but I have gained an immeasurable amount of insight, skills, and self-confidence!
I've been able to go to law school and my friends are happier to be around me. No one walks on egg shells around me anymore.
I can eat out without stress. I don't weigh myself. I can forgive myself for imperfections. I can breathe. I can give back to the ED community through advocacy, volunteerism, and research (currently finishing my doctorate in ED research). I can love and be loved. Recovery has changed my life!
A 3-pronged approach (mind, spirit, body) has been instrumental to full recovery. It has empowered me to move from managing my addiction - which took all of my time and energy outside of work - to creating the life I always dreamed of, but was not able to "bridge" while in addiction. I feel joy, contentment, and no longer obsess about what I eat, weigh, or how my body feels. I eat healthy, splurge in moderation, and trust that my body will regulate itself with good food and healthy doses of exercise. In short, recovery gave me my life back. If it is possible for me, it is possible for you!
In every way possible, recovery has enriched my life. I'm able to enjoy the five senses my body experiences fully and accept how I'm feeling.
It has made me more vibrant. I feel emotions in a stronger way, which makes me feel so alive.
I am so much happier! I think things I learned in recovery, like CBT and DBT helped validate my emotions, give me greater insight and power over my choices, and taught me to be assertive and attentive to my needs and not just everyone else's
I feel like I'm still in the trenches, but my therapist brought my ED behaviors to the surface, and that awareness has allowed me to seek support.
I feel happier, and I feel less shame.
I no longer think about food and eating constantly. I eat for pleasure and nourishment now.
Life is free, peaceful, and I can enjoy company of others. I get to do what I love and travel without the fear of food or conversation. I allow myself to enjoy little things in life, and I feel strong and confident enough to do so. My mind is clear, and I am able to feel strong.
I am still a work in progress, but I feel so much for free now.
Its still in process. It's made me see the value in people who are debilitated by illness. I have been blessed by so many people who aren't living society's definition of success.
I'm slowly getting better.
It's always a work in progress. I am now aware of the difference between my thoughts and feelings and my eating disorder's voice.
To be honest, it's been really hard. The best AND most difficult thing has been figuring out who is truly a friend and who was a superficial friend. The friends I have now are the ones that are here to stay. They are non-judgmental, strong minded people.
I have life back with freedom, joy and real relationships.
Recovery has changed my life by giving me freedom. I'm allowed to be the person I always was but that was hidden by my eating disorder.
During recovery I realized how much life is worth living. I would say I am a really different person after recovery. I love being outside, hiking, running, sports, music, and making food. I definitely am a better person now, and I continue to learn from my mistakes.
I have peace and freedom. :)
Provided me opportunities I never even thought to explore, opened my eyes to my passions.
I view food very differently. I appreciate it more, and I see its value in providing nutrients rather than providing relief from sadness.
I have a life! I have a job, a husband, a beautiful daughter, friends, I'm living a full and real life.
IT'S SO HARD! But I have learned just because you have a bad day or event, I now have the tools to direct me into making a positive shift in my choices. And that when those bad days come (and they will!), it DOES NOT MEAN YOU FAILED!!!
I'm happier. My body is healthier. I could actually focus on my schoolwork and LIVE in the moments in my life than them being taken over my thoughts of food and body image. Some foods that used to terrify me I'm getting so much more comfortable with. There are still items that are major challenges for me, but recovery is a process. My friends and family noticed dramatically how different I was (in a good way), which changed my relationships with others and myself.
I feel more content and peaceful
It has honestly put so many beautiful people into my life, and that make recovery doable
It's changed my whole life. Nothing is the same, and it is all for the better.
Not as many fights with family.
100%. I love and accept myself and embrace my imperfections
When I was sick, the ED was basically the only thing I ever thought about. Now that I'm far into recovery, I have a job, grad school, friends, ambitions. So many reasons to wake up in the morning.
Recovery is so much more than just me and my body. For me (and several friends and family members who have also struggled with eating disorders), recovery was about worldview. I made the connection that I was internalizing all kinds of messages about being "less" - quieter, smaller, more acquiescent, more agreeable. I thought I should take up as little space as possible emotionally and spiritually, and that manifested physically. Once I realized that in shrinking my body I was also shrinking my brain and my spirit, I had a big WELL F@!% THAT moment. I knew I was full of fire and energy and powerful ideas, and that I deserved to share them and to pursue fullness. Fullness of spirit, of expression, of personality - and fullness of body.
I feel understood, I understand myself better, and I have tools to help manage my thoughts and behaviors.
It has had a positive impact on my marriage, work performance, and relationships with family and friends. While I still have a very restrictive and compensatory mindset at times, symptoms are reduced and I'm able to go to social events again with less anxiety than before treatment.
I can eat without fear of judgment in public and at home. I wouldn't change it for the world!
I am a lot more at peace with who I am inside.