I read a quote recently. It said, ‘Recovery is a journey, not a destination’. While this is a statement that is open to discussion, in the sense that some people will agree with a statement such as this and some may not, it very much made sense to me.
I was diagnosed with an Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, in 2012, when I was 14 – that’s 6 years ago! For many years, life was tough – very tough. I sometimes forget how hard life was during those years. It’s not that I try to pretend it didn’t happen, but I try to live in the moment, which involves me enjoying life – as opposed to spending a lot of time ‘dwelling on the past’.
However, Eating Disorders are horrendous illnesses to deal with – and I’m saying that as someone who was in the grips of one when I was a teenager. When I think back to the 14/15 year old me who was in the absolute midst of AN’s captivity, I remember tears, struggles, pain, arguments, emptiness. As a child, I probably wouldn’t have been able to comprehend what my future held. Why would I fear food when I turned 14, when I grew up loving food? Why would I feel like there was this other ‘thing’ inside my brain, and that I’d have to fight thoughts in my own head? Why would life change from being ‘normal’ to miserable within a few months?
Well, I did have to deal with these struggles – similarly to so many other people in this world. Males, females, young, old…Eating Disorders do not discriminate, and they are serious mental illnesses with many physical consequences. But that’s not the main topic of this post. What I want to talk about today is the quote I mentioned at the beginning – ‘Recovery is a journey, not a destination’.
This quote isn’t specifically written about Eating Disorders – however, when you link it to an illness such as Anorexia Nervosa, it makes sense to me…
Firstly, the term ‘journey’ is used to describe recovery. My Eating Disorder recovery journey started on 25th July 2012 when I first got treatment for my ED. At this stage, I didn’t want help, I didn’t accept help, I didn’t even realise I was ill. But I started the hardest journey of my life; which would lead into the best choice I ever made – recovery. At the start, it was just physical recovery. My mind wasn’t ready to recover. Slowly, this lead to the mental side of recovery – and honestly, for me that took much longer than the physical recovery. Then there’s the stage of doing well and staying in recovery.
Recovery from an illness such as an ED takes time. The journey is long, slow, scary, unpredictable – but more worth it than I can put into words. I don’t know how many ups, downs, twists and turns my escape mission from Anorexia Nervosa had, but that doesn’t matter. It’s got me to where I am today, and for that, I am very grateful.
I’ve already used phrases about ‘staying in recovery’ and ‘recovery not being a destination’ – and that leads us into a question…can you fully recover from an Eating Disorder? My answer to this is…I don’t know! If I’m honest, I know that those ED thoughts that tortured me when I was younger still hang around in the back of my head sometimes. The whole weight/food thoughts sometimes come back, and at times, they’re harder to deal with. However, I do know that presently, I am in control of those thoughts and they are not in control of me – and I have moved forward a lot these past number of years. There’s a difference between having those thoughts and listening/acting upon them, as opposed to having those thoughts and saying, ‘Yea, okay ED, if you think that, that’s your opinion…but I know everything you say is a lie, so goodbye enemy!’ You see, I’ve come a long way since I was 14, and I’ve developed skills to cope with life which I didn’t have when I first entered secondary school. I always say this, but it’s true – while my battle with Anorexia Nervosa was horrendous, it’s made me into the person I am today!
So while I may not be writing this post saying, ‘I am officially 100% fully recovered and never struggle with the illnesses I was diagnosed with in 2012!’…I can say that right now, life is good. I enjoy life, enjoy food, enjoy doing ‘normal’ things day-to-day. While some people may think there is a destination you can reach to ‘complete recovery’, I’m yet to decide if it exists or not. However, I’m so glad that I’m at a stage on the journey where I am happy and healthy…that’s enough for me to be content with!