The push to full recovery

Did you know? This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

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Last year around this time, I was finally brave enough to share my story:

Why I smile: My Recovery

Which sparked more posts like it:

Why I say “I am recovered”
I never thought
That’s not my size (anymore)
Stop waiting to love your body

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Today I am sharing what I believe truly propelled me into full recovery.

Like many people who live with eating disorders, I lived in pseudo-recovery for years. I kept a seemingly normal and happy life while also hanging onto my disordered mind. I ate enough… I maintained a healthy weight… I had my period consistently… but still, I clung to the identity given to my by anorexia.

What I was doing reminds me of a old 38 Special song- “Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.” I knew that I couldn’t live the way I did when I was clinging for my life to my eating disorder… but maybe I could just hold it loosely, enough so that it would keep me in check.

For so long I thought I could have both, just a little touch of my eating disorder mindset and the rest of life was mine. Eating disorders become an identity to its victims. They take-over. An affected person begins to believe that they need it to be any good. To succeed. To not become lazy. To be worthy.

Full recovery means fully giving up this identity.

Disordered eating is not uncommon. I see it in people around me everyday. Some feel like they must be a certain weight or that they must burn off everything they eat or that skipping a meal is beneficial. So many individuals live on the edge. Just a “little” disordered, little enough that no one would notice (sometimes even the person), but big enough so that they can stay “in control.” Yet, what many people don’t realize is that keeping just a toe in the water will still poison their whole body.

I realized I had to make a choice: either life or my eating disorder.

Having both meant one would win. See, even when I had victories, when my true self won out over my eating disorder, the win never felt good. It never came without hours of overthinking to prepare myself to face it or without hours of  guilt following it. Keeping it just a “little” meant that all areas of my life were impacted, not just the areas I wanted it to. I couldn’t just be thin or just have perfect grades or just be a disciplined exerciser.

Keeping it just a little meant that social experiences suffered due to anxiety around food. It meant not being able to be spontaneous when friends suddenly made plans. It meant not being fully present at a church service or a family gathering. It meant being singled out as the only one not partaking. It meant not being able to enjoy a surprise birthday treat.

There was no “co-existing”. Eating disorders don’t play nice.

What pushed me to full recovery two and half years ago was in essence an ultimatum: a life lived fully or a life in bondage. I chose a full life and I will choose it again. Everyday.

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If that’s you, living on the edge of an eating disorder, I’m telling you to jump. You’ve seen the light, so run to it. Break food rules. Eat a cheeseburger or brownie and then forget about. Hang out with friends rather than going to the gym. Eat a large enough breakfast that you aren’t thinking about food during class. Sleep in and enjoy it. Find true freedom in Christ. Bake something spontaneous just because it sounds good. Look up, look down, look around- look anywhere outside of your head even if just for a moment. Live. Breathe. Repeat.

If you’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, I encourage you to use this week to educate yourself. If you love someone with an eating disorder I encourage you to help them by showing them a full life.

 

 

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34 thoughts on “The push to full recovery

  1. Hi!

    Totally needed to read this post today. Thanks for reminding me that it’s a consistent choice – to choose life over death, to choose thriving over surviving. I’ve found that sometimes it’s easier to focus on what I do want (life, community, thriving) rather than what I don’t (isolation, death, mere survival). The verse that always points me back is how the enemy comes to steal kill and destroy but God came to give me life and life to the full. That abundant life has no room for starvation, an eating disorder, depression, fear, or anxiety. 🙂

    1. Yay! I’m glad that it was meaningful to you. It’s so true that placing our focus on things that make life wonderful produce much better results than the miseries.
      I actually heard that verse yesterday at church and it gave me literal chills!!

  2. “Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.”

    That is scary accurate. What a perfect comparison.

    I’m so happy that you were able to push through pseudo recovery–that’s huge! For awhile I though I was still stuck there so I talked to my therapist about it. She reassured me that after being having an ED for 9 years and then this last year having made so much progress that I am just blowing through whatever phase I’m currently in. The past couple of months have been huge for me in regards to recovery. I have a lot of years to make up for!

    1. Very wise of your therapist! I am so grateful for the therapist that got me through the worst of years! The ED has already stolen too much time and attention from our lives- no way can we let it steal more!

  3. Great post Kate!! Choosing life was the best decision I ever made. That feeling of impulsivity to choose a brownie or not to exercise is freeing and terrifying at the same time.

  4. Being fully present is something I struggle with. My mind jumps in so many directions I really need to focus on being in the moment. Thanks for sharing your story Kate 🙂

  5. Beautiful, thoughtful post, Kate. While I never had a true ED, I’ve lived with those disordered thoughts – through most of HS and college. It definitely makes life a lot less enjoyableand much more strained and complicated. I’m glad you’ve made the choice to take on recovery full force and share your journey with us. Your writing is so relatable, honest, nonjudgmental and mature. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Catherine. I loved your post today too.
      I think too many people are in that same situation of never really enjoying what they have in front them due to self-criticism. I hope that as we grow we can let more and more of that go.

  6. Kate, you are a light in this world. Everything you said here I kept nodding to myself. Yep, Yep. All so true. Eating disorders want to win, and nothing will stop them except true inner strength. I love everything you have shared. Thank you for sharing all of this! ❤

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. I read somewhere that eating disorder can not be cured completely – it is like alcoholism. In order not to break, ex-alcoholic has to choose sobriety every day! So we have to choose to live life to the fullest every day.

    1. There are a lot of different perspectives on whether a person can be “cured”. I believe myself to be cured and have no desire to go back to my old way of life. I think it is whatever propels a person further. I had to decide to be fully recovered so that I would never look back!

  8. Wonderful way with words, Kate. The last paragraph where you list ways to “jump” is especially powerful to me – because the things are so simple. It is these “small” things – that one who has not experienced the disorder wouldn’t think anything about – that are truly the most powerful (and scariest) steps when choosing to break free. It’s all about the small choices. Yet, so much harder than said, of course.
    Thank you for continuing to share your experience and journey and spreading inspiration to this community. Although I can’t speak from where you are now standing, I am so grateful for those like you who are pushing me closer and closer.

    1. It’s amazing how the small things turn into more small things and then suddenly it’s like “how did I get here?!”
      I believe in you Cora and I know that you are so close to full freedom ❤ ❤

  9. You have come SO far Kate. So proud of you and so happy you fought those inner demons and beat this eating disorder. Thanks for being so vulnerable and brave with this post, you inspire me daily!

  10. I LOVE THIS POST! Eating disorders DO become our identity, and that’s what makes them so deadly. They don’t leave room for anything else. Any other joys, happiness, spontaneity, life. I’m still working on my own recovery, but now I know it will be worth it to be completely free.

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