When I began my journey of recovery in 2012, I had no idea what to expect. I was young, naive and believed anorexia was going to be the end of me because fully letting go of my mental demons seemed like way too difficult of a task.
There were family, friends, therapists and even strangers on the internet that believed recovery was possible for me. The only problem was, I needed to believe there was hope in recovery and I didn’t.
It seemed so scary. Give up what was giving me a sense of identity? No way!
Ultimately I made the correct choice and embarked on this new chapter of my life.
What I wish I knew back then are these few things. It would have helped me to see that recovery was possible and worth taking the leap far sooner.
1. Recovery, in any sense, is a great achievement to unlock.
You can be recovering from a drug addiction, an alcohol addiction, an eating disorder, a suicide attempt or any other event that requires returning to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
Recovery, as great as it is to reach, isn’t a linear path. It’s a lifelong event with relapse knocking on your door every day. No matter how hard it knocks on your door, don’t let the destructive behavior back into your life!
Your mind’s in full workout mode, doing an intense exercise circuit – all day, every day to keep your perceptions aligned with reality.
Your mental strength increases every moment you keep the door to your past shut. Recovery is based solely on your mental strength so as long as you keep the addictive demons at bay, you’ll have the power to stay in recovery forever.
2. Something I wish people told me prior to beginning my recovery from anorexia, was that I would be recovering for the rest of my life.
You can be in recovery for 80+ years, but you’ll never be able to claim that you’re fully recovered.
No matter how much mental strength you gain, demons of your past are always waiting to spot a weak moment so they can barge into your life again.
As soon as you believe you’re fully recovered, no longer worrying about relapse or using daily recovery skills, you become a sitting duck. Relapse is waiting for that moment to pounce.
3. If you relate the idea that recovery is a mental workout, it makes it easier to adjust your lifestyle appropriately.
If you were going to work out physically, you’d stay hydrated, eat healthier and probably aim to have a better night’s rest. Do the same for your mind!
As humans (sorry fellow robot readers) we’re mostly made up of water – so keep water flowing and help your body replenish what it uses. That same idea applies to what you’re eating. Fruits and vegetables are mostly made up of water too, so be sure to include those in your diet.
The more you help yourself in an external sense, the more your body will reciprocate and help you in an internal sense.
I notice the effects of diet and water consumption in my life, only when I neglect my body of what it needs. If I’m eating pizza, chips and beer all week, I start to notice my depression cycling in and I usually feel a HUGE force of eating disordered thoughts swarming in too. It’s an instant note to self to give my body what it wants by cutting back the junk.
4. No one cares about your past and if they do, they’re not worth your time in the present.
Before I entered the recovery stage of my eating disorder, I was constantly plagued by the idea that ‘all my hard work would be erased’. As in, all the weight I had painstakingly lost would’ve been wasted time because as soon as I’d begin recovery, I’d be forced to re-gain weight.
I was also plagued by what others would think. I was terrified by my own disillusions. I thought people would see me as a failure, someone who lost weight but couldn’t keep it off.
I thought I’d be seen as ordinary and boring as soon as I chose to give up anorexia. My eating disorder gave me a sense of identity in my disillusioned mind.
I was stuck in a ‘what if’ mindset for far too long. I denied my own health because of my personal conversations with delusional thoughts.
Once beginning to recover from my eating disorder, I noticed that nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. The world didn’t end, the sidewalk didn’t split into two, and no one seemed to care or notice my return to health.
Here’s the thing, people are so wrapped up in their own minds and their own ‘what if’ problems, they have no time to care about anyone other than themselves.
That means you’re in the clear! No one cares about what you’ve done in the past, no one cares what you’re doing now and no one cares what you’ll do in the future. As long as your plans don’t personally affect them, you’re free to put on a purple unicorn suit and do the cha-cha. (Or whatever else you may have had in mind!).
On the off-chance that someone IS paying attention and caring enough about what you’re doing that they take the time out of their day to comment on it, they have unresolved issues of their own. When we negatively project onto others, we’re showcasing our inner struggles.
When someone talks negatively about another person, it’s because they are seeing the negative aspects of themselves in that other person. As opposed to fixing the problem within oneself, they criticize others who exhibit the behavior they dislike in their own life.
Stay in tune with your own mind and you’ll start to see you exhibit this behavior too.
5. Recovery marks the start of a new life. This new reality makes your dreams and desires seem so close but your constant anxiety is holding you back, making everything seem unobtainable.
Talk about a buzzkill.
A life in recovery is rooted with hope and personal growth. It provides you with a sense of protection, that you can do whatever you set your heart on. If you can conquer recovery, anything is possible!
Well, that’s until your anxiety starts to kick in. Depending on your skills to combat anxiety, the uneasiness and the fear may try to take you backwards in life. I’m not talking about your anxiety leading you away from recovery, but instead, your dreams.
I noticed this happen within myself! When I had a strong handle on recovery from anorexia, I directed my passion towards helping others. I dreamt of owning my own company. I wanted to help others who struggled with body dysmorphia to see how truly beautiful they are.
I began to work towards my dream, but the closer I became to obtaining the reality of it, the more my anxiety told me no.
My anxiety wanted me to stay where I was. I was doing great in recovery, resulting in my subconscious becoming terrified that if I were to progress into the stage of helping others, I would be free from my mental demons.
This was, as the book A Course In Miracles describes, my ego, screaming for me to choose fear over love.
Our ego can only exist in fear, as soon as we choose love, we deny the voice of our ego which destroys its existence. The ego’s only purpose is to convince us that love isn’t real so it can destroy us. The ego produces all of our fearful thoughts. According to The Course, “It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain”. Once we distance ourselves from love based thoughts, our ego thrives and pushes fear into our path.
If you are unfamiliar with A Course in Miracles, this may be super overwhelming and confusing. Don’t worry! I will be using the information in The Course as a guide in much of my future writing so please hang in there.
To recap: I was able to choose love over fear. During my quest for a life based in love and recovery, SPIES (Support People in Every Situation) was created. It’s not exactly what I had in mind five years ago, in fact, it’s so much greater!
When you choose love, you’re allowing the universe, a God if you will, to lead the way.
The universe has a plan much bigger and more complex than what we can understand. By surrendering, believing, and allowing the universe to take control of your life, amazing things can and will happen.
In my case, it led to the creation of SPIES. On my own, I would never have dreamt of an idea this magical, but here I am living a wonderful life with the universe guiding me forward.
I hope this post served you well!