Freedom: What does recovery mean to you?

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?

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!

Recovery means so much to me that sometimes it’s hard to get it all down.

It’s such a vast question that you can’t help but miss a couple of key things when writing about it. Sometimes you might not even be aware of all the areas recovery could improve.


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.

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55 comments

  1. A story of bravery! Thanks for sharing your story. And I agree, recovery means freedom – Freedom to do the things without any inhibition.

  2. Recovery definitely looks different for everyone. It is nice to hear what everyone else thinks.

  3. Your bravery is appreciated. Having the ability to read other people’s experiences is priceless.

  4. Recovery is Freedom! Sometimes, depending on the trauma, it is a long road, but it’s important to continue the path until you are where you want to be. Giving up too early my result in relapse. Stay strong

  5. Yes, recovery absolutely is freedom, and learning how to prevent ourselves from being put in a bad position again. I enjoyed reading this article again. Thank you for your candor.

  6. True. This is also the same with my case where I sprained my ankle and I really couldn’t walk properly for weeks. Right now, I can walk but still there is discomfort. For me, recovery is to be able to run again without any pain. That is freedom, as what you’ve said. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I love this and agree 110%. As someone who has lived most of my life struggling with my eating disorder, freedom was the best word to describe what I craved so much in recovery. I wanted nothing more than to head out with friends when someone randomly suggests grabbing lunch – not coming up with an excuse why I couldn’t go. I wanted to just go with the flow like everyone around me seemed to without feeling like my world was closing in around me.

  8. Just amazing!!! As usual, your posts are very authentic and real, thank you so much for opening up about your experience, you’re such an inspiration.

  9. What a raw, eye opening post. I appreciate you sharing your heart with us. I can imagine it takes so much to do this and work towards recovery and I feel like I’m celebrating your wins with you. You’re always in my heart friend.

  10. I love this! It’s always wonderful when people can recover. I am so glad you shared this and that you can continue to do well!

  11. I was able to witness closely what it means to recover is a long and often tortuous period but the light is at the bottom of the tunnel. I have reached it.

  12. I love to read this an honest post! Life is the name of struggling, keep believe in your self, recover soon and enjoy the life……

  13. Another eye-opening post. Iโ€™ve had my own moments of struggle, and where itโ€™s been challenging to overcome. Recovery to me, means taking the small steps to feel better, even when things seem hopeless.

  14. I’m still trying to find it and it’s almost been a year of recovery. It’s difficult when you don’t have the same level of support outside treatment as you do inside.

  15. Yes! I also had to learn self confidence in recovery from many years of abuse. It took about 3 years, but I am a new person! I pray your road to recovery continues to thrive!

  16. I hope you are making strides on your road to recovery! The mind is so powerful and sometimes it can free or incarcerate us. Food and drinks are some of the best pleasures in life and I hope you get back to the place of enjoying them without being self conscious. I also wish you physical healing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Hi sweetheart! Thank you for sharing this with me and taking the time to read my post.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like for you on this journey because each of our paths is different, but I truly believe that with the right help you will get to a good place. I believe I will too. It seems daunting and impossible but, the truth is, nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it. I am like you in regards to needing to know a menu before I go to a restaurant or cafe and struggling with travel. I know that’s the eating disorder for me, but I can see how it’s so difficult for you to untangle the ED from the autism.

    I have worked with autism before in a previous job. What I mean by that is I worked in a restaurant where we offered quiet spaces for people who found it difficult to be in loud, busy places. We had many parents with autistic children coming in. We also offered ear defenders in case the quiet spaces were full. I don’t know if that’s progressive or not but I know we helped a lot of parents and children.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story with me. I wish you all the best and if you ever have any questions or just want to chat feel free to tweet me ๐Ÿ™‚

    – Nyxie.

  18. This post completely hits me in the feels! I am at a different stage of recovery now, I’m a healthy weight but I still have so much of the disordered thinking. I literally can’t imagine ever being in a place where I don’t have to check out the menu before going out to eat and I don’t know, in my brain it’s so difficult to disentangle what is ED and what is Autism and what is Sensory Processing Differences – I need to know that there are “safe” food items to eat, but for me this isn’t controlled so much by the calories but by tastes and textures and food aversions and stress of not knowing how loud and busy a place will be.

    I also have difficulty travelling or going on holiday anywhere that isn’t self catering because of food anxieties.

    I am incredibly excited by what recovery means for you! I believe that you will get there, sometimes the journey may be two steps forward and one step back but always remember that is one step further forward than before!

  19. Great post! What a brave person you are to share your story. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog this morning. Keep writing, and I can’t wait to read more. xoxo Olivia

  20. Thank you for sharing this with me, I appreciate that it’s not easy. I know it’s a stupid and overused saying but I firmly believe that time heals all wounds. It takes a while, it’s not an overnight job, but we get there through determination and strength. I send you all my love and luck in the future.
    Thank you for taking the time to pop in, read and respond.
    – Nyxie.

  21. Recovery for me is a little different, but like you, I want to find a way to step out of that experience with the opportunity to have learned from it and have grown as a person. I struggle sometimes recovering from emotional abuse, not in my current relationships but from a previous one. It takes time to work through each of those aspects. Each time I feel that I have reached a plateau in the recovery process, something else comes a long that helps me realize that I still have a little more growing left to do. Oddly enough, it feels like a really humbling process because The Universe is helping to push you forward. You’re right recovery can mean a lot of things for every person, so it could be different depending who you ask. But I appreciate you asking the question and sharing this. It helps to remind others, and myself, that we all struggle, we all feel, and we all heal in our own time.

  22. Such a thoughtful post. For me recovery is the effort to curb down our fears. I wish you happiness .Eat well and stay well.

  23. Ah, what a wonderfully honest post. It’s interesting to read what recovery means for you personally, and I really hope you achieve everything you’ve mentioned here.

  24. I am so happy that your sister has overcome this terrible disorder. I fills me with hope that I will fully recover too some day.
    Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment. <3

  25. I am struggling to accept the weight gain as well. I am trying accept that it’s what my body needs right now, but it’s difficult. Like you, it seems to be one step forward and two steps back. But I have hope and faith that we will both get there, it just takes time. Thank you for stopping by and commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Well done on sharing this post with us and openning up. I am positive you will recover and be able to do all the things ypu want to.
    My sister was anorexic and nearly died but now fully recovered and enjoys her life.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    Alyssa
    THESACREDSPACEAP.COM

  27. Thank you so much for reading and responding to this ๐Ÿ™‚

    I remember every conversation I’ve ever forced myself to have with people in work, and I’m proud of every one of them because I hate it so much. If I have to assert myself it makes me almost want to run away and cry, so any victory, no matter how small, is massive in regards to my anxiety.

    I do hate weather talk though! I hate small talk beyond belief and would honestly prefer to jump into a full blown conversation.

    Recovery is about one step at a time, living day to day and just continuing to move forward despite it all.

    Thanks again for reading and I wish you all the best with your own anxiety. x

  28. Such a personal and honest post, thank you so much for sharing. I find writing on my blog about what I’m going through and how I’m feeling such a therapeutic experience, and it’s always really helpful to have everything that’s bothering you/the difficult things that you are facing out in words that you can read and share to others. It’s kind of like lifting a weight off of your shoulders, of course, it’s only the start having it written down, but to start the recovery journey is a massive step. I hope you continue on your journey and that step by step (even if they’re small steps) it gets better for you.

    To me recovery means making sure I find positives in every day life, even if it’s something simple that I managed to start a conversation at work even if the thought of it makes me feel anxious, even just going to the kitchen at work and making a cup of tea and speaking to a stranger that I don’t know, just those little conversation fillers like ‘what fab weather we’re having today!’ Although don’t you find it funny that we often result to talking about the weather in those type of situations haha.

    Great post!

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

  29. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I am so sorry you had to go through that with your daughter. When I was in quasi-recovery I spoke to many parents going through the same thing and it can be so heartbreaking. I am glad to hear that you are all through that now and long may it continue. x

  30. This is such a powerful post and hats off to you for being able to talk so honestly and openly about it. I guess with any sort of recovery, having the right mindset is always a good starting point – obviously there is far more to it than that, but you have to start somewhere, right? Best of luck on your journey – great post.

  31. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog Nikki, and for being so candid in your response. You are an inspiration for all you do each day to keep sober. I believe in you girl! You can do this! xx

  32. Love it girl???? I’m so grateful you are working threw this day by day.

    To me recovery means living a normal life. As you know I am in recovery for opiate abuse, which is entirely different from eating disorders, but as we have talked about there are some similarities.

    Recovery for me, means not running from the cops, or being afraid of having to go threw detox again. It means no more hiding the sickness from friends and family, or being desperate to end the mind blowing pain and discomfort of of the sickness. It means being able to save money, and being able to wear tank tops in the summer, and not hiding track marks. It means knowing someone isn’t waiting for me outside the bathroom listening for the sound of a bag ripping. It means life.

  33. Thank you for taking the time to read and responding. ๐Ÿ™‚ Recovery is all about trying. If we don’t try every day to overcome whatever it is we are feeling, then we are more likely to fail.

  34. What a raw and honest post! I’ll keep you in my prayers and hope that recovery goes well for you – although I know it’s not a linear process by any means. For me, recovery just means trying. It’s a rocky road, but as long as you try that’s all that matters. x
    El | welshwanderer.com

  35. Body dysmorphia is a huge issue. Itโ€™s sad that if a woman doesnโ€™t look a certain way sheโ€™s considered unattractive. Every woman is beautiful in her own way. I think every woman struggles with this issue, some in more extreme ways than others. Iโ€™ve never had any experience with anorexia, so it was really interesting reading about someoneโ€™s real struggles with the condition. I really like how you went into detail about how anorexia affects your day to day life. Thanks for sharing your story.

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