(I didn’t know what letter to put this under, so I settled for ‘P’ because in this article I focus on the parts of recovery. Nevertheless, I was considering ‘X’ as sort of substitute for when there are too many words in a title, and also because I don’t know what topic to write about that could begin with ‘x.’)
Anyway, it’s a good thing that there is plenty of stuff out there on the physical and mental benefits that come with eating disorder recovery. It’s important that this positive and motivating information is available, because recovery can be extremely difficult, time consuming and frightening.
But there are parts of recovery that may fall under the radar. There are small moments that can bring unacknowledged joy and quiet pride. They are special, well-deserved and highly satisfying, especially when you realise how far you have come.
These can include, and are definitely not limited to:
- A ‘guilty indulgence’ is called that because it is expensive. Doughnut dinosaurs and fancy cake wedges that you need 10 napkins for are unnecessary but a great treat.
- Your brain becomes a self-judgement-free zone.
- You look forward to take-away and don’t dread it.
- Clothes are no longer too big or too small because your weight is finally stable.
- Hot chips with aioli become a rebellious quick lunch.
- Say hello to lolly-bags at birthday parties again!
- The mirror is now used for putting on make-up, styling hair, and brushing teeth, not scrutinising yourself.
- You have more headspace for daydreams, hopes, and fantasies.
- You walk with confidence and aren’t ashamed of your appearance.
- Celebrations such as birthdays, Easter and Christmas are not clouded with resentment or guilt.
- With less doctor’s appointments comes a crazy amount of free time, to spend however you want.
- Your life is not ruled by fear, hate, or… rules. (See what I did there?!)
- You get a much higher capacity to work on yourself, your relationships, your studies/career, and your cheesy pick-up lines.
- You won’t panic if there is a party with a terrible assortment of ‘food’ fit only for a 14 year old caveman.
- Photos taken of yourself by others are alright.
- Exercise is for health, not weight-control, and so it is stress and guilt free.
- Like in a video game, you have levelled up in independence, fortitude, endurance, weapons, strength, clarity and health.
- Your relationships with others can improve as you become more relaxed and less suspicious or paranoid.
- You can let yourself rest and become fully immersed in a movie, TV show or book, with no background urges nagging at you.
- You are much more present in your relationships with friends, family and animals.
- Without behaviours such as binges and purges, you save a LOT of money.
- If you have children, you can be a healthier and happier role model for them. And if you have friends, you can be a role model for them too.
- Holidays and trips away are soooo much easier.
- No more lies or sneaking around. You can finally be more honest and direct.
- You’ve become better at communicating your needs and wants.
- Consuming junk food and confectionery is enjoyable and does not lead to a chaotic spiral of doom.
- You’re able to understand and express your thoughts and emotions better.
- You live with the knowledge that you literally beat death and overcame an enormous and terrifying challenge.
Perhaps some of these apply to you, but not all of them. Yet. Guess what, keep up the hard work and they all will. And to those who do not suffer from an eating disorder but are still bothering to read this, hopefully you are able to comprehend how an eating disorder is so much more complex than eating poorly.
Take care of yourself.