Recovery is a rollercoaster and is one I have been a passenger on many times.
I have always felt very frustrated with myself when I have relapsed, and have felt like I am back at square one. This time around, however, I feel like I am older and wiser, and I have chosen to view this experience as a learning opportunity – one that can hopefully carry me through life without any further relapses. With than in mind I wanted to share some lessons I have learnt along the way.
Nobody can do it for you
This is a hard lesson to learn. Recovery is fucking hard, and as much as everyone around you can will you to get better, the only person who can do it is you. Yes, you might need a lot of help along the way, and there is no shame in that. But it can’t happen passively, you have to take an active role in it.
You might have to fight for yourself
Sometimes, health services might not give you the support you think you need, and you might have to fight back to get it. This is exhausting, invalidating and demoralising, but it can be the difference between getting better or struggling alone. If you don’t feel able to do this, try and find somebody to be your voice and your advocate. You are an expert in your own difficulties and you deserve the right treatment.
People might say the wrong thing
It doesn’t mean they don’t care, but it might mean they don’t understand. The way I now deal with this is by addressing it head on and using it as an opportunity to educate them on why saying the wrong thing can be hurtful, and what could be said instead.
You will find out who your true friends are
I have been lucky. Instead of my friends shying away, I actually had more come out of the woodwork. The people that show up when you need them are your true friends – don’t forget who they are.
People can’t help unless you let them in
There will be people who are at a loss of what to do, and the more you put up barriers, the less they can help. Let them.
You will still have bad days
Recovery is messy. You might feel like you are doing well and then suddenly be hit with a bad day out of nowhere. That doesn’t mean you are failing or have taken backwards steps. Sometimes we just need to ride these times out, remember why we are doing this, and start again tomorrow.
Keep a record of your journey
I have kept diaries over the years but never in any great detail, and last time I left treatment I threw my resources away, thinking I wouldn’t need them again. This time I have bullet journalled my way through anorexia and treatment, documenting every up and down and keeping records of all my treatment material, therapy notes and progress. I know now that I can draw upon these for the rest of my life.
Therapy is a two way process
Your therapist can’t fix you, but they can help you to learn how to help yourself. If it’s not hard work, then it’s not enough. You need to actively engage in the process to get the most out of it, no matter how hard that can feel.
It might feel impossible
That doesn’t mean it is. I have had many dark moments of thinking recovery is for other people but not for me. That I will always have anorexia, no matter how many other people manage to recover. One thing I have learnt this time around is that thoughts are not facts. Just because I have a thought, it does not make it true, and I remind myself of this every time I think I can’t do it.
It looks different for everyone
There is no perfect version of recovery. There are so many inspiring people out there who are documenting and sharing their own journeys, and it’s amazing to be able to look up to these people as a source of motivation. But nobody’s story is the same, and your journey is your own. Comparison is the thief of joy, and by focusing so much on other people’s recovery, you are missing out of concentrating on your own. What does it mean to you to recover? That’s the only relevant question.
I hope some of these might help you if you are feeling a little stuck, or need some motivation. I would also love to hear anything you have learnt through your own journeys through recovery, in whatever form that has taken.