Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Why recover?

This is a request from one of my readers for all of my readers out there:

Why are you fighting to recover from an eating disorder?  What makes the fight worth it?  You can be at any stage of recovery to answer this question.  What keeps you looking forward instead of throwing in the towel, saying “fuck it all” and giving up?


May 6, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , ,


  1. When I was thinking of killing myself because I was in so much pain. That was the point where I had to turn around and do something. That is what keeps me going.

    Comment by David | May 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. His name is John. Tomorrow, he’ll be 18 months old. My husband has proven he’ll love me for better or worse (and you know worse wasn’t pretty), but John never needs to know me that way. I may not believe in complete recovery, but i believe enough to remember every day of my life that i can never go back there.
    He’s perfect, and pure, and I am his mother.

    Comment by michelle | May 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hey, Alexis! Glad to see you back and posting again. I have to say, I don’t suffer from an eating disorder, but addiction is very familiar to me. I’m an alcoholic in recovery and I have also struggled with cutting. Considering all of these behaviors have some of the same underlying issues, and are equally self-destructive in nature, I hope that it’s alright that I comment on this one.

    [What makes the fight worth it?]

    For me, it’s those moments that you overcome the fight. Those moments bring me back to the idea of what my life can be like all of the time, if I keep moving forward and do the next right thing. See, when I get lost in the pain, I forget how attainable a manageable life actually is. When I make choices that push myself out of that pain, I can see clearly again. And, in moments like those, what I see ahead, may not always be easy, but it’s worlds better than what’s behind me.

    [What keeps you looking forward instead of throwing in the towel, saying “fuck it all” and giving up?]

    Even if I’m not always living in The Solution, I know that it’s there, and I know that I can be, if I so choose. And I’ve been taught a lot of little things that have helped me hold on when I’ve wanted to give up.

    Staying in recovery has sometimes seemed like such a big thing for me. So big that it can feel overwhelming and impossible to stay this way. So, In response to that feeling, I was told that I don’t have to want recovery %100. I just have to want it %51 percent to the part of me that doesn’t want it the %49. For those moments, all I have to focus on is that %1. And so it seems smaller, less impossible and overwhelming. And it’s worked for me.

    Also, some days I have to talk with people who knew me before I started recovery to remind me of how fucked up I was back then and how I could fall back into my old way of thinking and my destructive behaviors in a hot second if I don’t make my recovery a priority.

    Anyway, I’ve written quite enough. Thank you for posting these questions and allowing all of us to comment. 🙂

    Comment by Panda | May 7, 2010 | Reply

  4. I stay in recovery for lots of reasons, some honorable, some not so much.

    Much of the time I keep doing what I’m doing because it works and I feel better than I ever did when I was sick. I have a full life today, and I wake up with the freedom to choose to be a friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, and student. Before, I woke up and my entire day – my heart, mind and soul, was tied down with obsession and I had to plan everything around my eating disorder. I didn’t do the things I loved, I didn’t show up for the people I loved and I spent a lot of time in locked facilities. I thought then that it was better than taking the risks that came with recovery, that I was emotionally safer staying sick, that my ED was who I was. When I let go of that identity I met someone who loves deeply, kicks ass on the soccer field, learned all the bones in the body, can finish a rubik’s cube in less than a minute, and can take care of herself really well.

    I set a recovery date – November 6, 2008. Because of this, sometimes my reasons for staying committed to my healthy eating habits and activity levels are that I don’t want to change my date. I have 18 months yesterday and I’m proud of that, so occasionally it’s my pride that keeps me from relapsing.

    I’m a pretty cool person today, I like myself and I enjoy life. Everything hasn’t been perfect, I’ve gone through a lot of pain in recovery, but the ways I handle the pain today are much more effective and I grow from it.

    If you’re new to recovery or you’re thinking about relapsing, I am here to tell you that it’s worth it. Ask for help, be patient with yourself and persistent. It took lots of practice to get good at being sick and it takes practice to get comfortable with recovery. You were called to something greater than death by an eating disorder.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | May 7, 2010 | Reply

  5. I just found this list that I wrote while I was IP.

    Without an ED:
    -I wouldn’t hate myself as much
    -I wouldn’t dread each day
    -I wouldn’t regret the day before
    -I wouldn’t worry about tomorrow
    -I could relax
    -I could exercise for fun
    -I wouldn’t be so preoccupied
    -I would save so much time
    -I could actually enjoy social situations
    -I would feel comfortable in my skin
    -Life wouldn’t be so unpredictable
    -I wouldn’t have so many secrets
    -Getting dressed in the morning wouldn’t make me cry
    -I wouldn’t feel so driven to avoid mirrors
    -My energy levels would stabilize
    -I would sleep better
    -I would concentrate better on school
    -My heart wouldn’t be strained
    -My mood wouldn’t depend on a scale or my clothes
    -My stomach wouldn’t be so messed up
    -I could prevent health risks associated with EDs
    -I could focus on what was driving the behaviors in the first place
    -I wouldn’t think death was the only way out
    -I wouldn’t feel so awkward and nervous at meals
    -I wouldn’t be jealous of thin people
    -I wouldn’t be terrified of gaining weight
    -I’d have more time for friends
    -Food and weight wouldn’t spark anxiety attacks
    -I could enjoy life more
    -I’d have a better time in social situations
    -Less self-doubt
    -I wouldn’t feel so seperated from other people
    -I wouldn’t have to lie so much
    -Deciding what to eat wouldn’t be so difficult
    -I wouldn’t feel so out of control
    -I would be free
    -I wouldn’t be disgusted with myself
    -My attention could be placed on class or friends and not on ED thoughts
    -I’d have more self-confidence
    -I wouldn’t be so crabby
    -I wouldn’t be embarrased
    -I wouldn’t want to avoid people
    -I wouldn’t hate life
    -I could actually feel alive
    -I wouldn’t feel like crying all the time
    -I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed
    -I wouldn’t feel hopeless
    -I wouldn’t fear the ED will last forever
    -I could be more peaceful
    -I wouldn’t feel trapped
    -I could laugh

    Comment by Andi | May 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Wow, Andi. Thank you so much for taking the type to type out and share this list.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | May 8, 2010 | Reply

  6. love this question, its one i journal about frequently to remind myself to stay in recovery.
    why do it?
    i can play volleyball again because im not too scared to wear spandex and im ACTUALLY pretty fucking strong rather than frail.
    i can enjoy baking.
    i can smile without worrying about whether or not it makes me face look fat.
    i can wear shorts (sometimes).
    i can wear make up because im not too SCARED to look attractive/sexual.
    i can wear a real bra because im not too scared to look attractive/sexual.
    i can go out with my friends because im not too afraid of the food.
    i can go to the bathroom without my cell phone pre-dialed to 911 because i feared collapsing at the toilet.
    i am freed from cleaning the bathroom obsessively because there is not dried vomit everywhere.
    i can have a spiritual life again because I now know that God loves me rather than hates me for being a “failure”.
    i have confidence to apply for jobs i would have never thought i was capable of.
    i am freed from the obsession of studying and running. (but have the freedom to do both in moderation :))
    i can sometimes feel pretty.
    i dont fear someone finding me dead in the bathroom.
    i can save money for worthwhile things other than diet food and diet pills.

    those are just a few. recovery is so fucking worth it.

    Comment by mindy | May 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Again, thank you for a list. I love reading these lists.

      “recovery is so fucking worth it.” i love THAT most of all!

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | May 9, 2010 | Reply

      • I like that one most of all, too!

        Comment by Andi | May 9, 2010

  7. formspring question

    Q: what has been your FAVORITE thing about recovery?

    A: getting a natural high, and having it be better than anything before. It just boosts me into mega-recovery mode. Like I want it more than anything.

    Comment by Lexie | May 9, 2010 | Reply

  8. I still struggle with why to keep fighting on a daily basis (even while having a good 5 months or so of solid recovery behind my back), and I thank you so much for posting this question Lexi. Reading other people’s responses has helped. I have to say that I haven’t quite figured out the “Why I want recovery” yet, (I think that’s why I still have the day to day urges so often still), however, I do know about a million reasons to keep fighting even if I’m unsure of the end result…

    I couldn’t stand to see my parents hurt again
    I want to be there to help my friends though their struggles
    My niece and nephew deserve the most loving, energetic and fun aunt they can get
    There’s so much FUN to still be had and so much LIFE to still be lived
    and simply because I know I was put here on this earth to do something special that only I can do 🙂

    Those are my reasons for not saying fuck it all.

    Comment by Nikita | May 9, 2010 | Reply

  9. Why recovery? I have a lot of reasons….Number one is my passion for music. I couldn’t focus on school and sing when I was sick, now that I am healthier, my voice lessons are going great!

    I also have a 8 month old nephew, whom I love dearly. I didn’t want to miss out on his life.

    My voice teacher is a great inspiration to me, pushing me and encouraging me when I need it. She believes in me, and I wanted to be able to believe in myself.

    There is so much more to life than the eating disorder, I was missing out on shows at my school, voice lessons, going out with friends, dating, and just progressing in life period. Recovery is hard, and I still struggle, but recovery is worth it.

    Comment by Cheryl | May 15, 2010 | Reply

  10. Why recover? For me, it’s fairly simple – I can not fathom living the rest of my life as it has been with an eating disorder. It’s just not an option. I don’t even really use the word “recovery”, as the idea of recovery is overwhelming. Instead, I focus on the word “different”. My life with an eating disorder has only taken me farther away from my dreams and goals – so clearly I need to do things differently in order to pursue what I’m passionate about in life. I often find myself asking questions like “what is more important – your pant size, or finishing school?” when I’m struggling. I know that the chances of finishing school with the eating disorder are ridiculously slim – and I desperately want to finish school – so the only option I then have is to recover.. I’ve finally realized that what I do with my life is far more important than the number on the scale. I simply can not live an unlived life anymore.

    Comment by Deanna | May 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Wow. Deanna, this was a powerful answer. Thank you.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | May 15, 2010 | Reply

    • amen.

      Comment by Andi | May 15, 2010 | Reply

    • That was a fabulous response. I really appreciate the idea that living with an eating disorder for the rest of my life is simply not an option.

      Comment by Mindy | May 25, 2010 | Reply

  11. Why Recover??
    That is an awesome question and one I find myself asking over and over again as I go thru the recovery process, but deep down I know why. For one I WANT MY LIFE BACK!!!
    I want a family, to get marriend and to bring beautiful children into this world. A world where they have a mom who is happy with who she is and no longer acts on her eating disorder. I never want my children to suffer like this so I must get better before this can happen. I want to go back to school and get into a job that I love to wake up to everyday. I want to feel fullfillment, excitment, all the emotions ive missed out on the good and the bad. I want to find a place to call home. I want healthy relationships with people and friends who love me and I love them for no other reason then for our true self. I want to make my mother proud of me and I want to be proud of me as well. I want to see the world thru new eyes. See the world as not evil, a world that is out to get me but a world with beauty, love, the good stuff. No more negative things all the time. I want to wake up one day and not be in soo much pain that I stay in bed rather then get out. I want to travel oversees. I want to learn. I could go on and on and on why I want to recover. I just have to remember all of those things when it comes down to the hard choices I must make and make the choice that will lead me to all my hopes dreams and passions for myself. I want to be free from the darkness and to feel the light each day that is possible. And when things are hard and tough bc they will be thats life, I want to get thru them and feel how I need to feel without numbing out and holding onto it forever. Just writing this excites me. Recovery sounds so good and sometimes scary but it just cant be worse then living with my ed the rest of my life, or lack there of. Thanks for this..Rachel D.

    Comment by Rachel D. | May 15, 2010 | Reply

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