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What even is recovery?

Recovery... Everyone is always told “to choose recovery” but we are never told exactly how to achieve this or what this even really means.

When I was diagnosed with Anorexia, I was immediately expected to ‘just recover’, so being the perfectionist and ‘people pleaser’ that I am, I chose to fake my recovery.

I cannot iterate enough: please, please DO NOT DO MAKE THIS SAME MISTAKE.

When you try to manipulate your team into thinking that you are improving, admittedly everything does seems to be amazing. Everyone is proud of you and you get to still do all the things you love, all whilst secretly clinging on to your eating disorder. You relentlessly abuse the trust you are given and take every opportunity you have to satisfy the never-ending set of rules your eating disorder gives you.

But then you slip up and your whole world comes crashing down. The repercussions of this can be catastrophic. For me, I ended up in hospital. But I still didn’t learn.

Once I reached a certain weight I was happily ushered back into the community, where pretending to ‘recover’ became too easy once again, but where did this actually get me?

I was miserable, always.

I lost all control.

I was torturing my body.

I was constantly cold and uncomfortable.

I had no ambition or drive for anything besides my eating disorder.

Honestly, I was living an incredibly sad, self-destructive life, that was genuinely only leading to a slow and painful death.

That is the reality of all of this. There’s a reason that you always feel tired, you can’t concentrate and you’re constantly freezing cold. Your body is quite literally eating away at your vital organs. Your stomach, bones, brain, kidneys and heart are all deteriorating. Just take a second to think… what you are doing to your body is undoubtedly killing you.

Once this reality hits you, all of the times people have told you the horrors of your eating disorder, finally has an impact on you, as you realise that you are not exempt from the facts.

This to me was the start of recovery. That light bulb moment and switch in perspective makes all the difference, and now I think I understand why I was never taught exactly how to recover. You can’t be taught – you have to truly want it, otherwise you will only be stuck in the vicious cycle of denial, faking recovery, feeling hopeless and then giving up.

Now I’m not saying that from one single moment of realisation that everything will be flawless, but now you can work with your team, not against them. Yes, your motivation will fluctuate, and you will be terrified of the changes that you will need to make, but you can be prepared and find ways to combat the intrusive thoughts, until one day you wake up and realise you no longer have them.

I am still waiting for that day, but I am focused and hopeful that one day, it will finally come, like how I am confident that it will come for you too!

Contributed by Martha

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