Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

100% “real” recovery

the full-length mirror I used to avoid like the plague

A discussion was taking place on a facebook page about whether or not “real”, 100% recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

The old belief, professionally, was that no,  you could never recover.  The eating disorder would always be there, and, hopefully, you would manage it.

Guess what?  That’s not the belief anymore.  I am recovered.  Fully recovered.  I have friends who have recovered.  Fully recovered.  No obsession with food, no fears of food, no more letting the number on the scale dictate how you feel and what you eat and how you act.  Most of my friends who used to have eating disorders don’t own scales.  And don’t miss them.

I will confess I own a scale and that I keep a record of my weights.  I also keep a record of my blood pressure, my pulse, any dizzy spells, and any tachycardia spells.  I email these to my cardiologist once a month, more often if the tachycardia is prominent, because I have a genetic degenerative heart condition.  My weight is one of the ways my cardiologist can see how my heart is functioning.

But I no longer weight myself in the same exact outfit every day.  Or at the same exact time.  And regardless of the number, I don’t change what I’m going to eat that day.  It gets written down in my daily log and then I put it away.

Why do I have “real” in quotation marks? Because I also have friends who are at a stage in recovery where they are functioning at 100% but do have to make sure they are eating enough or some days they are tempted to not eat as much or they don’t own a scale because it would become another obsession or they still have fear foods.

Is their recovery any less real than mine?  Absolutely not.  They have moved beyond managing symptoms but aren’t quite at the “free completely” stage.  There’s really no linguistic term for it.  They are living full lives.  And they will say that all that effort, all that work, to get to a point where everything is managed and they can live a full life again was totally worth it.

I used to not have a mirror in my apartment.  Now I do.  And I no longer want to tear it from the wall when I stand in front of it.  I wear clothes that fit me and not someone twice my size.  I dress up, something I never used to do because then people might look at me.  I’ll go out to eat now, and choose my meal based on what I want not on what has the fewest calories.  I put creamer in my coffee.  I wear makeup.  I do my hair in snazzy ways sometimes.  I look people in the eye when I talk to them.

These are just some of the things that are different.  The biggest thing that is different is that I feel free. No longer does the eating disorder decide what I eat, drink and what I do to exercise.  Those things are decided by me, and each day is different because I feel different each day.  If I’m exhausted and have spiked a fever (from my heart condition) I don’t go for a walk. When I had the eating disorder, I still would have walked, as if I didn’t have a fever.  I allow myself to be human now.  And being human is so much better than trying to be this perfect machine.  And being human can be fun, another thing that I never really experienced while I was anorexic.  Oh, I smiled for people to make them think I was fine, but I was too obsessed with food and drink and exercise to really be anything other than faking it.

Recovery is a hell of a lot of hard work.  But yes, it is possible.  And yes, it is worth it.


April 10, 2011 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. So with ya! I’m not into “recovery” but I definitely can say I am fully healed. 🙂

    Comment by Lily | April 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. I love this post so much. I want to give you a big hug. THIS is why I read your blog.

    Comment by Coco | April 10, 2011 | Reply

  3. this is an amazing post! thank you for using your voice. i am recovered 10 years from my eating disorder – and my eating disorder is no longer at the negotiating table or the meal table. check out “Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder” (Harlequin Books) because there really is life beyond – and you deserve to enjoy every minute of it!

    Comment by Johanna Kandel | April 10, 2011 | Reply

  4. “I allow myself to be human now. And being human is so much better than trying to be this perfect machine.”

    Thank you – I can’t word that any better. For most of my life I’ve been trying to be the perfect student – but ultimately a machine – disciplined, constantly working, never allowing myself to have fun because that’s a “sin”, a sign of “weakness”. I forgot – and I still have to keep reminding myself – that in order to pursue my goals I have to be more than just a machine, I need to be human in order to be passionate, and that means accepting emotions, as messy and imperfect as they are. And that scares the crap out of me. So I really admire you for having the courage to be a “Student of Mindfulness”, as you put it on your facebook, as opposed to the robotic student the ED encourages us to be.

    Comment by anon | April 10, 2011 | Reply

  5. I really enjoyed reading this post. When I used to hear people say they were fully recovered, I’d think to myself, “Yeah, right…” It’s still difficult to fully believe, but it seems more realistic. I’m in that 100% functioning – but make sure to eat! – phase.

    Comment by Jen | April 10, 2011 | Reply

  6. I totally agree that recovery is possible, I am in recovery now where I eat whatever I want and what my body needs. The number on the scale dosen’t affect me the way it used to. I don’t automatically cope with stress by not eating anymore. Sometimes I am fearful though that the eating disorder might come back throughout my life. But if it does start to creep back in, I know how to fight it and have the tools to do so. I am also a firm believer that you have to want to recover for it to happen. There were many times I wasn’t successful in treatment because I didn’t want to get better. When I wanted it and was willing to put in the work towards it thats when it happened.

    Comment by Cheryl | April 15, 2011 | Reply

  7. This was the perfect post 🙂 I have been in a full recovery for about a year now, and at this point, the hardest thing I have facing me is the fact that most of my friends have either (1) returned to their Eating Disorder fully, (2) have just started on their journey to recovery, or (3) are functioning but will be the ones who will forever need almost daily intervention from others to stay that way. Out of the girls I know, I am the “furthest ahead” in recovery and feel like I am walking into uncharted territory. When I hit snags, I don’t really have anyone to turn to for advice. Now I am not complaining at all. I almost always figure out the perfect way for me to deal with these, and it’s kind of exciting to be the “leader” of something this healthy. It’s like I’m giving my friends peer pressure in a good way. All I’m trying to say is that it’s nice to know that there are indeed people who are further along in their path to recovery than myself. I know logically that I am not alone in this journey, but it’s comforting to think that there are others who are ahead of me instead of just following me. I am most defiantly still in the place of 100% functioning but still needing to keep a constant eye on myself to make sure I don’t slip up in one way or another. Thanks for this post. It really was just what I needed to hear!

    Comment by Nikita | April 24, 2011 | Reply

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