Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Andrea Kelly
**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.
Andrea Kelly is a transformational coach and writer who also has a background in real estate. After many years of struggling silently with anorexia and bulimia, she has found freedom in the last few years. She shares her eating disorder story in Fear Less: Transforming Fear into Courage within Relationships, Career, Society, and Self, available for preorder now. Follow her on Instagram @andreakellylove.
Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that shares voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. In this post, Andrea Kelly describes the ways fear presented itself in her eating disorder and how she learned to confront it in recovery.
You share your eating disorder experience in Fear Less, an anthology of personal stories about recognizing and moving beyond fear. How did fear show up in your eating disorder, Andrea?
Fear showed up in my eating disorder by food restriction—extreme restriction and very black-and-white thinking. It feels SO good now to be able to have two pieces of pizza, for example, and not feel guilty and also be able to stop when I am satisfied. Earlier it was like “Crap, I screwed up. Well, I may as well just eat everything in sight and then purge.” Fear showed up as self-abuse in so many ways.
What lies did these fears tell you about yourself and your place in the world?
Although my fear showed up as a “fear of fat,” there was so much to uncover that was behind that. There were deep-rooted fears that had to do with self-esteem, self-worth, and value. I always feared that I was never enough—never good enough. It was associated with a belief that I was not worthy.
Complete the sentence: “Eating disorder recovery required….”
Commitment, faith, and a willingness to give up the idea of perfection. That was an ideal that would never be obtained anyways.
What important lessons did you learn in recovery?
There will be setbacks; they are part of the journey. Don’t let them get you down—keep moving toward your goal of recovery because it IS possible even though there will be many moments where your mind might tell you that is not true. I learned that there are deeper reasons why things happen; there are lessons, gifts, and meaning in everything if you are able to open yourself up to them. Do not seek perfection; instead, seek to find joy within yourself and within your life. Creation is key, and you CAN create a life you love over time. Also, get comfortable with embracing the journey. I tried many avenues of external resources for help, and there is no need to think you need to fight alone.”
Are there any affirmations you’d give to those currently struggling?
I am loved. I am worthy. I am enough.
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If you or a loved one is experiencing an eating disorder, help is available. Reach out to The Emily Program today by calling 1-888-364-5977 or completing our online form.