Complacency in recovery

Posted 27/03/2017

Complacency. A feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder. A feeling with which most people can empathise, whether that be with their job, their relationship or their life in general. Complacency within the context of eating disorder recovery, however, is a completely different ball game. The terms ‘calm’ and ‘satisfaction’ when paired with eating disorder recovery sound almost counterintuitive. There is nothing calm or satisfying about either an eating disorder or, oftentimes, the act of recovering from one.

Recovery for me has not been a straight road. Six years later and I find myself better, but not at that elusive stage of “recovered”. In these six years I have taken a bumpy road, a road covered in pot-holes. At times the road straightened out, the pot-holes dissipated and I could see the horizon stretching out in front of me like a beautiful dream. It was at these points that complacency set in, that I let my guard down, that I believed I was invincible. Consequently, it was at these points that I came crashing back down to reality, to the fact that maybe I am not as ‘fine’ as I think I am.

I find myself now much better than I was. I am no longer knocking on death’s door. I no longer receive withering stares from strangers as I walk along the street, looks of pity or, I daresay, of disgust. Instead, I find myself fighting an internal battle every day, hour, minute and second. This is the hardest battle of all. It is one that those around me are unaware of but that I am acutely conscious of for every waking moment. This is the stage at which life goes on all around me and I try desperately to cling on to some semblance of normality, to build a life for myself while simultaneously mentally pushing myself forward, convincing myself that eating is normal, that it is something I not only deserve but also need.

This is the state of semi-recovery and it is hard. It is hard because those around you don’t understand. They don’t understand why you ‘can’t’ go out for dinner. They don’t understand why you’re on the verge of tears because your mind is slaughtering you for having defied the voice in your head that taunts you constantly. They don’t understand that this morning you looked in the mirror and saw a fat, ugly a nd worthless monster and now you have forbidden yourself to leave the house. Yes, this is a hard state to be in and this is where complacency rears its ugly head once again. This is a state in which a person could quite possibly live for the rest of their life, or perhaps not live but more aptly ‘survive’, because this is no way in which to live.

I dearly wish I were writing this article to tell you that it is possible to push past this stage, to put an eating disorder behind you for good but unfortunately I am not yet at that stage. The word ‘yet’ is very important though because while I cannot testify to it from personal experience, I can say that I have seen living proof that it can be done, that a full, happy and healthy life is fully possible after an eating disorder. It is this constant shining light of possibility, of hope that keeps me going every day, that keeps me striving each moment to make a change, to really live my life, to grasp those opportunities and to create those memories. One day I will wave a victorious goodbye to complacency and to an eating disorder and I will welcome with open arms the freedom that awaits me. Until that time comes, I will use each moment I am blessed with to move one step closer to that point. 

Contributed by Hannah