What does recovery mean to you? Are there any challenges you want to face in recovery, and what will life be like once you face them? What are you taking back from your mental illness? Freedom, control, stability?
When faced with a mental illness, recovery often means taking back control. We’re taking back the freedom of allowing ourselves to eat, the ability to go outside without anxiety, or we’re changing how we speak to ourselves.
For me, recovery means a number of things that are no doubt familiar to others dealing with a mental illness, specifically those living with an eating disorder.
Recovery = Freedom!
Firstly recovery means complete freedom from calorie counting, fearing foods, food-induced panic, and restriction.
I haven’t eaten some of my favourite foods in over 10 years for fear of the calorie content and what it might do to me. Sadly, this also means that I haven’t tried many new foods which I’ve desperately wanted to! How crazy is that?
“I’ve allowed a monster inside my head to dictate to me what I can, and can’t eat, just because of the fear of gaining even a pound in weight.”
Anorexia Nervosa has prevented me from drinking some of my favourite drinks (hot chocolate, lattes, Baileys, milk or milk-based products, smoothies, etc), and it’s even tricked me into limiting water for fear of water retention.
It’s so irrational but very real for me and many others.
Secondly, recovery means freedom to wear clothing again and actually having it actually sit well. Currently, everything I put on hangs, and even if it does fit it looks terrible. Without going into much detail, no matter what I choose to wear, I’m either reminded of how thin I am, or I’m made feel “too big” by my own mind.
There was a point in my relapse where I looked at myself and thought ‘Finally, this is great’, I finally look sick enough!
The reality of the situation was that others looked at me and saw nothing but a sick woman in the body of a child. Anorexia had convinced me that it was a good thing that I didn’t have an ass or boobs. Surely that meant I was doing something right, right?
Now, months later, I want to be recovered. I want my body back and to actually look like a woman. The scary part is gaining weight and going through weight redistribution to get there.
By going through recovery I want to have a figure, and have the freedom to just own it! I want my hourglass shape back, and if the Gods also gave me a decent set of boobs in the process I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
Thirdly, I want to be able to eat out without looking up the menu ahead of time. I want the freedom to eat out without feeling guilty or tearful during and after.
Forth, I want to be able to travel without the fear of food. The freedom to go to a different place, and actually enjoy myself without the fear of weight gain has been off my list for over 10 years.
While in Poland this year I found it very difficult to separate myself from the eating disorder and it stopped me from trying new things. It meant that I used sightseeing as a way to burn off the calories, and I wouldn’t compensate properly for them because the snack foods over there scared me.
Finally, I want to be able to function again without physical pain.
I want freedom from chronic stomach issues, joint pain, and palpitations, and I finally want to be warm!
What do you want from recovery? Is freedom high on your list?
If you’re interested in reading more about just how done I am with anorexia, you can check out my Letter To Mental Illness. Maybe you’ll find yourself relating to it, and hopefully, it will inspire you to write your own.
** If you like what I do please consider donating to my KO-FI fund. I’d like to be able to reach more of an audience so I can potentially grow this blog to be much more than it currently is. I also hope to bring freebies and eventually tool kits to you all as a way of saying thank you for your support.