Submitted by Kristine Strangis
I believe that this one word is what describes those who are able to recover. Recovery takes strength, dedication, patience, and hope and it is a journey that takes courage. Think about it, recovery asks you to step outside of the rigid comfort zone that you knew so well, to change who you thought you were and step into this new realm of existence. Recovery is about exploring the world and all that it has to offer, good and bad, in order to find yourself. This, overall, is the journey of life, and it is those who are able to survive or endure hardships that go on to be great in their own special way.
From my own recovery journey, I have learned that it is a process, one that takes a long time, and I had to accept this in order to move forward. My eating disorder began when I was thirteen, but I was hospitalized for anorexia nervosa at age sixteen and, ever since, I have been in and out of multiple levels of treatment. That is eight years of having an eating disorder and five years of being in recovery; it is a long battle, and one that I have yet to finish. But, is there really an end to recovery? Is being recovered really possible? Yes, I believe that it is possible to be recovered; what I do not believe in is that fairytale happy ending that society tends to emphasize, you know, that one where you are running through a field of beautiful flowers into a breathtaking sunset, or riding away into eternal bliss on a white horse with your prince charming? Well, although this may seem wonderful, it is not realistic, and certainly not living. When you are recovered, it will not be all rainbows and roses and that perfect happy ending, but rather, a life full of new beginnings, a chance to experience life and all of the feelings that come with it. To me, being recovered means being at a place where I feel balanced, where there is good and bad, happiness and sadness, light and dark, etc. Recovery is living your life to the fullest, whatever that may mean for you.
As I said before, I have been in and out of treatment for five years now, but, during my most recent relapse about a year ago, I do believe that what has kept me going this time was resilience. I knew that choosing the eating disorder was a death sentence because, even if I were able to survive with an eating disorder (which is not likely), I would not be living. Living with an eating disorder is worse than death, it is a life of constant anxiety, miserable depression, lonely isolation, and living with this demoralizing sense that you are nothing but a number. We may not have a choice in whether we develop an eating disorder, but we do have the choice to choose recovery. Well, I was not going to let the eating disorder control me and take my life away. Once I was dedicated, through all of the ups and downs of recovery, I was resilient, I kept getting up every time that I fell down, and I continued to celebrate the victories.
Overall, I think the moment that I realized that I was finally recovered was when I kept choosing recovery, no matter what. I knew that if I continued to search for this impossible goal of the perfect happy ending, I would never be happy because it just does not exist. Now, this is not to say that life does not get better after recovery because it does. My life is so much more fulfilling, peaceful, and balanced now that I have chosen recovery, and it only continues to get better. I want you all to know that I am still in treatment right now; it is only outpatient therapy appointments once a week, but I am still working on my recovery. So, yes, I do believe that I am recovered, but that does not mean that I do not need therapy anymore; I am at a point right now where I feel like going to therapy because I want to in order to stay on track with my recovery, especially since so many changes are happening in my life right now. This is dedication, this is doing what is right for me in order to stay on the path of being healthy and balanced. Once you stop believing that there is an end point to reach, and really focus on meeting yourself where you are at, you will find balance.
Recovery is life, it is a journey of self-discovery that is not easy, but definitely worth it. So, remember that recovery is a process, one that is full of ups and downs, so be resilient by continuously choosing recovery, and never give up the fight.