Advice For Starting Recovery In 2020.

Are you starting recovery in 2020? Here’s some advice from myself and others who have been there.

Lose weight, exercise more, drink more water, travel, etc. These are only a few of the standard New Year’s resolutions that you’ll hear as the day draws nearer. But for me, it’s all about recovery, self-love and continuing to improve. It’s not about being perfect or making more money. It’s just about continuing down the road I’ve set myself.

Despite starting recovery in January this year, I’m still not weight restored for a variety of reasons. I lost not only my grandfather and grandmother, but I also left my job in hopes of reducing my stress levels (it totally worked!). I’ve compromised my recovery at certain points of the year, which has hindered my weight gain. Sometimes it’s been justified, and other times it hasn’t.

“What I thought would be a quick fix of a few months has turned into almost a year of difficult self-discovery and perseverance.”

Anorexia Nervosa has raged within me for over fourteen years now, so to think that it would only take a month or two to recover was a wild understatement. Yet, I still encounter those in my life that think just that; Including myself.

But don’t be discouraged. The road might be long but there is freedom at the end of it. We just need to work hard to get through the hard times in order to experience and fully appreciate the good.

Image by Allie Smith.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Starting Recovery.

Don’t start placing blame.

Our parents aren’t entirely to blame. The bullies aren’t entirely to blame. That kid down the street that made a rude comment isn’t to blame.

You are not to blame.

In regards to families, it’s been historically believed that parents were the leading cause of eating disordered behaviour. Although that’s not entirely misleading, it’s also not entirely true. No one is perfect, least of all our families. Often we find that our parents may not be as supportive as we want, and as a teenager or a child, this can be difficult. But as an adult, you have the power to parent yourself.

Talk it out with your therapist, and discover what needs to change in your life in order to better accommodate recovery. If it’s re-parenting or additional therapy that you need, then get started!

Placing blame will only allow hatred and anger to grow. It’s hard to accept that we may need to forgive or adjust in order to move on, but it’s essential.

Do believe in yourself!

We all do it, especially those of us with mental illness. We tend to believe the lies telling us that we’re unworthy, we can’t do it and that it’s impossible! It’s so easy to give up and spend all day in bed without a drop to drink or a bite to eat. That’s what Anorexia Nervosa wants from you: Complete submission.

Spoiler alert: Anorexia lies. You CAN do it!

Many have managed it before, so why would you be any different? What’s stopping you? Figure it out and take control of it!

Yes, Anorexia Nervosa can be fatal. Yes, you may have those disordered thoughts forevermore, but you don’t have to be governed by them.

“Recovery is possible and you are 100% worthy of it!”

Don’t be hard on yourself.

Being critical of ourselves is just another in the long list of symptoms associated with an eating disorder. Doing so only increases our feelings of shame and lowers our self-esteem.

It’s important to work on our confidence and sense of self-worth during recovery. It can be a long and delicate process, one which I am still undergoing and will do for a long time.

Daily affirmations and gratitude can help us immensely, especially in the early stages of recovery. That’s why I created my own gratitude journal and recovery prompt journal. I not only use them for myself but I’ve also left them open for others to use.

Want to grab a copy of the gratitude and recovery journals? Sign up to the mailer list now and get access to the downloadable files.

Don’t put your needs below everyone else’s.

Chances are you’re here because you’re used to putting the needs of others above your own. The word ‘NO’ is dirty and rarely leaves your lips. Helping others is a lovely gesture, but when it puts your health and needs at risk, then it’s a very one-sided thing.

You are your number one priority.

It’s not ‘selfish‘, ‘bratty‘, ‘self-centered‘, or anything that others might tell you it is. Self-care is about ensuring we charge our own battery before trying to charge someone elses.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. If you find yourself triggered by conversations, politely ask for the subject to be changed or remove yourself from the situation. Especially in the early stages. It won’t be like this forever, and in fact, exposure to triggers is paramount in later months. But in the beginning, it can be very challenging to hear your co-workers talk about the latest slimming world diet.

Do talk about it!

No matter what the eating disorder or mental illness is telling you: Speak up! If your mum is telling you to stop talking about it: Speak up. If you’re in any way pressured or guilt-tripped into shutting up: SPEAK UP!

Talk to the friends and family you have on your side. Open up to your treatment team. Have a chat with HR or your manager. If you’re struggling in any way reach out before it becomes too much. Asking for help can be a daily process, so practice and take control into back into your own hands.

Keeping secrets about the difficult things in our lives can be a double-edged sword. Although you think you’re maintaining dignity and ‘not bothering anyone’, it often leaves you with feelings of shame, which further prevents you from asking for help. Does that sound about right?

Create a support network for yourself full of people, professional and otherwise, who you feel comfortable confiding in when you need to. Letting them in on your secret makes it easier for them to help.

Need help asking for help? Check out this article.

Do be patient.

Here’s the T: Full recovery can take years. It doesn’t happen over the course of a night, a day or even a month. Even after a decade of anorexia nervosa, and two previous relapses, I was still convinced I would be back to work by the end of the month. It’s been a full year and I’m only now regaining my BMI, and my mind is still miles behind.

Have faith in the recovery process, your treatment team and your own ability. Do your own reading on the side, dive deep into the world of recovery and you might just find a whole new lease on life.

Do listen to your treatment team.

No explanation needed for this one. Listen to your treatment team, ask questions and learn as much as you can about how to help yourself.

Do spend time with supportive people.

If they aren’t a positive influence on you, then you don’t have time for them. When you’re knee-deep in recovery you don’t need that noise.

This may mean some hard decisions need to be made in order to protect yourself. But that’s okay. You’re allowed to make those decisions because it’s self-care!

Do find things to keep yourself occupied.

At the beginning of 2019, I was climbing the walls. I had been signed off work and was finding it very hard to occupy myself. My family lived far away, my friends lived in the city and my partner worked. All I had known for years at this point was going to work only to come home and sleep. Without work, I was left walking the halls at two in the morning wondering what was the point.

That’s when I made the decision to start writing again. I had loved it for years prior to starting university, so why hadn’t I been actively writing? I was stuck in a cycle of what I thought was normal, but in reality, it was far from it.

I started this blog and slowly began documenting my recovery. Although none of that content is available anymore (it was much too triggering), it still helped me find the courage to actually talk about my mental health out loud.

This blog saved my life, and that’s not being dramatic. It’s not just writing and publishing this blog, but also the countless wonderful people I’ve met through it.

I never thought I’d have people reading and actually enjoying my content. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. So, take a chance. Rediscover old hobbies, play the video games you’ve been meaning to play, spend time with loved ones, read a good book.

Last, but by no means least.

Don’t lose hope.

Advice from others.

That Autistic Fit Chick.

Just do it. Try anything that takes your fancy even if you’re not sure it’ll work. The opposite of negativity isn’t positivity but warmth. It’s not I see you’re sad so you should be happy but I see you’re sad so I made you hot chocolat and brought you a blanket and a colouring book.

Reparent yourself and give yourself time to play like a child. Do things for the sheer hell of it without an objective. Colour outside the lines.

Start where you are with what you have. Like my ED recovery (aside from being in denial) I started the eating five meals only from my safe foods and then once weight restored/stable I started trying to repair my relationship with food. But I worry that will go against people under clinic etc? Also I know I’m different

Living Mental Health.

It’s going to be a long journey but believe in your self!

Bill MacPhee.

Fill your calendar with social things to do. Even though you will not want to go to everything. When you are in the mood you will have something to do, go out for, and people to talk to, even if you do not feel like it. Keep busy with things to look forward to.


Have someone to share everything throughout. Highs, lows…anything. It can be a parent, a sibling or just a friend.

Thank you all for your continued support throughout 2019. I’m eternally grateful to everyone who has stopped by to read my blogs, follow my socials, and basically care about my writing. It’s always been a dream of mine to become a writer and to have people actually enjoy reading my content, and finally, I feel like I’m getting somewhere with that dream.

Wishing you all a peaceful new year.

91 thoughts on “Advice For Starting Recovery In 2020.

  1. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times, thank you for this post!!!! Everything you said in this post is exactly what I needed to hear as I prepare for a new year and my new goals! Best wishes to you in 2020!

  2. Im so sorry about your grandparents! I lost my granda in March. Being patient is so important in recovery, I thought it would take a few months but its a very long journey!

    Ash |

  3. Just stopping by to say you are one of the bravest people I know. Hang in there! I’m always here if you want to talk.

  4. Great ideas! I think that we can be our worse enemy. Sometimes we judge ourselves and keep carrying the burden. It’s important to know our self worth and when we need to let go.

    1. We certainly do judge ourselves too harshly. I find it’s especially hard within the mental health community because we all are much too hard on ourselves.

      Thank you so much for stopping in and reading.

  5. A really informative, supportive and helpful post for anyone starting recovery in 2020. I can imagine it’s a hugely daunting prospect so having advice from people who have been there would really help x

  6. Anyone going through a recovery program can definitely benefit from finding things to keep themselves occupied. Also, hope is one of the most powerful things to bring healing to the body and mind.

  7. I really think these two things can’t be said enough –
    Don’t blame yourself
    Don’t be hard on yourself

    As humans, we tend to do exactly that and for some of us, it’s a very long road to the point where we can stop ourselves doing it.

    It’s great that you’ve come so far and I look forward to reading more of your insightful articles in the new year :o)

  8. Yes, this will be a recovery year for me too. I start meetings this Sunday. And I am excited to be starting fresh and making things new. I loved this whole article!

  9. Wishing you the best with your recovery in this new decade! It’s so important to spread the word about the realities of recovery, and the fact that you really do need to prioritise yourself sometimes.

  10. Thank you for sharing this, it was what I needed to hear to give me a boost for the new year. I had a fair few setbacks with my recovery in 2019 and my goal for 2020 is to regain some of that progress I made earlier on. Wishing you all the best for 2020 ❤️

  11. Thank you for sharing this great post to inspire others how to become a better version of themselves for 2020.

  12. Your one of the best people to read advice from definitely, your so good at giving advice. Thankyou for writing this post there will be so many people going into 2020 struggling with recovery hopefully they will find your post and it will help them like your already helping loads of other people. Great post really enjoyed reading 💗

    Charlotte 💗

    1. Thank you so much, Charlotte. This is such a wonderful thing to say. If I can reach even one person, I’ve done my job 🙂 Wishing you a happy new year, pet. x

  13. It takes so much strength and bravery to pursue recovery. Please remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process- sharing your story and your advice will be beneficial to so many people dealing with the same struggles. Thank you for sharing and best wishes for a full recovery.

    1. Thank you so much. I’m still struggling with being kind to myself, but I like to think that I’m getting there.

      Wishing you a happy new year!

    1. Thank you so much, pet. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind of a year. I hope this post can help people who are maybe taking on their own journey this year, recovery or not!

  14. Thinking of oneself and one’s well-being is very important. I always have problems with being patient, but I do talk about my problems more often than in the past. 🙂

  15. You are an amazing writer! Not only you create amazing content, but you actually help people and that’s the most rewarding thing that a person can do. You motivate with your posts and your topics are deep and thoughtful. I’m glad that you chased your dream!! Keep it up.

    I agree. Last year was complicated for most of us. This year should be all about healing, loving and empowering ourselves.

    1. Thank you so, so much for your beautiful comment. Honestly, this has made my day (and it’s only 8am!).
      This year will hopefully bring healing for a lot of us!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I hope your recovery is going okay, I know it’s very hard but remember that you can do this! If you have the strength to keep up an eating disorder, you have the strength to recover!

  16. Love all this advice! I know it sounds a little cliche, but anything is possible with a strong mindset and a little bit of guidance. Thanks for the post, will definitely be re-visiting every now and then.

  17. I definitely agree that you need to love yourself and heal, but I also love setting goals for a new year. I like to hold myself accountable so it just works for me.

  18. Recovery is ones of the toughest things to go through, it requires surrendering, strength and self-care. I’m wishing you a wonderful 2020.

  19. Thank you for sharing your recovery journey! This is such meaningful advice coming from you.

  20. So many powerful statements in this post, but one that spoke to me was that it’s not about being perfect. That’s always a tough one for me, so the more reminders the better!

  21. I feel one of the best ways to heel is to not keep these condiitions a secret. I am glad we as a society are starting to tell our stories because anyone dealing with mental issues usally feel we are the only one. It seems everyone has a story and getting our voices out into the universe sets some healing into motion. Your story should be told to not only help you but those those seeking help.

  22. Your post is so refreshing and uplifting.
    I am so freaking hard on myself that I can’t get past the stage I am right now.
    But I believe I need to rediscover myself and work on it.

  23. This is great advice! Especially being patient and not putting your needs below the needs of others. That can be extremely difficult.

  24. This is such a great post, full of awesome suggestions! It’s something that I think everyone can relate to for one reason or another & I plan to read this again if I’m feeling down & need a boost. Thanks so much for posting this!

  25. It’s a wonderful time of year to reassess and take stock of what you’d like to change. Not being so hard on yourself as you’ve pointed out is definitely one I’m trying to embrace in 2020. Thanks for the very helpful post.

  26. I love that you pointed out that “as an adult, you have the power to parent yourself”. That is so encouraging to those who had a difficult or painful childhood. Your article is so well thought out. I’m sure your words will help many people who are struggling.

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