How to Actually Recover From Your Eating Disorder

real recovery eating disorder

Until recently, I didn’t realize that I was still sitting on the fence of recovery from my eating disorder. It’s been almost a year since recognizing a need for real change, yet I find myself in almost the same place. Fatigue, severe GI distress, and anxiety don’t stop. But why? I’ve been doing the “right” things and spending most of my time thinking about recovery, thinking about the action plans that would get me where I wanted to be. Sadly, the fact that my body hasn’t been able to keep up, despite some small attempts at change, flipped the switch. This week a lightbulb turned on. Recovery from my eating disorder is possible

Navigating recovery

We hear it all the time, but “all in” recovery wasn’t something I thought I really needed. My eating disorder was lying to me again. It kept telling me that simple weight gain would fix all my problems. The physical manifestation of my eating disorder would be gone, and I could keep the exact same existence, the same routine, and the same sick eating disorder games. I wanted to recover because it was the right thing to do, and then I could have my life back.

But friends, just weight gain is not enough for me. Fixing physical symptoms with pills or special diets is not the answer. Only real, lasting change in my heart, mind, and body is going to open the doors to the life I long for. 

The difficult, lonely existence I’ve been living has helped me realize that being in the middle is truly the worst place to be. It’s exhausting to be attempting some recovery action, while at the same time suffering at the hands of my illness both physically and mentally. My efforts feel futile because frankly, they have been. Working so hard for a life you still don’t actually want will tear you down every time. 

I am almost grateful that I do have “symptoms” to show me how much my eating disorder has taken from me. My body’s poor state reveals how deep my need for recovery is and how deeply I WANT it now. And if you want something, you’re willing to work for it, give something up for it. You can endure temporary discomfort for long-term rewards. It seems simple, but it has changed my world. 

Partial recovery is never the solution

You see, warriors, this pain wasn’t going to stop if I stayed on the fence or in the middle of the road. It was going to keep haunting my whole existence unless I let it go and learned what I truly need and want. My body and mind have been screaming at me.

You need rest!

You need food!

Currently, I actually crave rest. And there are so many foods I long to eat without worry or restriction. And guess what?! I can say yes to those things, permission granted! 

This is not to say that all the work I’ve done up till now is pointless. By no means! I do believe that I was not ready for these intense steps without the smaller ones preparing me for this season. Small shifts and small changes are still necessary victories. Because without the baby steps I’ve been taking, I don’t think my body or mind would be speaking to me this way. The truth would still be too distant and dulled by the roar of survival mode. 

Taking steps forward

Now that I’m here today, I see that a lot of the steps my team wanted and wants me to take suddenly make sense. They are no longer cruel punishments or more restrictions, they are the keys to freedom. There’s a reason our bodies need to rest and eat and return to a place of peace. Instead of keeping me from the life I think I want, they are opening the doors to true life. It might just take some time for the picture to come fully clear. 

These new recovery choices are just that–my choice. I hold the power to eat and rest and do the things I want. What a gift! So as you wrestle with a body that is in pain or sending you signals, take some time to think about what those messages actually mean. Maybe, like me, you NEED more “recovery” than you thought. And remember that you absolutely can have the richer, brighter life you WANT.

It’s time to say yes, and get off the fence. We can do this.

More from Hayley Smiley
Is Striving to Be “Good Enough” Stalling Your Recovery?
Almost all my life I’ve been trying to live up to standards....
Read More
Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. says: dorothy

    Now I’m working on a study for >studyessay, on the subject of eating disorders among women. It turned out to be a serious problem. It affects mostly young women/adolescents. I think it should be discussed more often in schools and universities.
    Thank you for the quality content!

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.