Poems of Recovery: A Q&A with Ananda de Jager
Photo © Linda Merkens
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Ananda de Jager is the author of Poems of Recovery, a collection that provides an intimate and honest look at her eating disorder recovery. She openly shares her thoughts and feelings about healing her relationship with herself and food in the book and on Instagram. Learn more about Ananda on her website, anandadejager.com.
In this Q&A, Ananda reflects on the healing value of writing, sharing, and reading poetry and shares excerpts from her book.
What role has writing played in your recovery? What does poetry offer you that other forms of writing do not?
Writing has been an important part of my recovery ever since I saw one of my friends write loads of pages in her notebook. I started doing the same, but I sometimes felt that writing about my day took more time than I liked. Then I discovered that writing poetry was quick and efficient, and I was able to express my feelings very well. Poetry allowed me to really express how I felt, in an artistic way, and since it is often just a few sentences, it allows me to easily identify my feelings. Further, reading back what I write really helps me to see how far I’ve come.
Tell us about your book, Poems of Recovery!
In sharing my poems and quotes on Instagram, I discovered that people found strength in them. I discovered that I could help other people by writing down my journey.
I wrote Poems of Recovery: A Young Girl’s Path to Recovering from an Eating Disorder and Amenorrhea during the last five months of 2019 after I had just been on a spiritual retreat and my period returned. You could say I reached a recovery goal—having my period—but I still had a lot of distorted thoughts and patterns that I had to work through. I felt like writing down this part of the process and publishing it were the last steps in my healing journey.
The poems range from my darkest moments, such as after a binge, to my happiest ones in recovery, like dancing in the street. I want to show people that they are not alone and that healing is very much possible!
Can you share a few poems from the collection with us?
Tell us about the illustrations that accompany your poems. Why is it important for you to incorporate both art forms into your work?
The illustrations in the book are made by my amazing friend Laurien Dwars, who can be found on Instagram under the name of @lauriendraws. (I love how her last name can be changed into “draws” by changing one letter, haha!) She has always been into drawing, so I asked her if she would make some for the book, as I was also inspired by other poets who have done this.
It feels like the visuals and poems complement each other. Laurien actually took some photos of me and drew them, which makes the drawings very personal. It was important to incorporate both as sometimes pictures or drawings can say more than words.
What type of poetry moves you? Who are your favorite poets?
I am a big fan of Rupi Kaur, Shilpa Goel, and April Green. Everything they post on Instagram I want to share. I really like that in just a few sentences, they can express what I think a lot of people must be feeling. Sometimes it is difficult to express your feelings, but then the right quote or poem can really hit the spot. When I shared some of their work on my Instagram stories, I’ve found that other people thought so as well. There are so many talented people out there!
Are there any poems or quotes you find particularly inspiring?
One of my favorite quotes is “The more you love your own decisions, the less you need others to love them.” While I definitely love making others happy, I am also a firm believer that you need to fill your own cup first and that you are the most important person in your life.
I also love this quote by Nayyirah Waheed: “and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.” I feel we are often so strict on our bodies, hurting them and restricting them, but in the end, they are really all we have and they are always there for us—trying to keep us alive.
I am 100% a quote person, so I could share 10,000 more quotes…. 😊
Poems of Recovery is available for purchase on Amazon.