Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Cathrine Pace-Davis
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that features voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. Here Cathrine Pace-Davis continues a conversation she started in an earlier guest post, “Giving It My All to Recover for Good.” She tells us more about the resources and lessons of her eating disorder recovery.
What surprised you most about the process of recovery?
Once I made my mind up that I was going to get well, residential treatment was enough support to disengage my automatic behaviors, use skills I previously learned, and develop new habits that I still practice today. I thought for sure my body would have a harder time acclimating to digesting food and being able to process what I digested. Our bodies are amazing. After more than twenty years in my ED, I was able to habituate in less than two weeks.
What one word would you use to describe life with an eating disorder and one word to describe recovery?
Life with an eating disorder is unsustainable. Recovery is worthwhile.
What would you say to your former self, right before starting the recovery process?
There’s a formula to this that will make life worth living: Follow your meal plan and continue to weigh and measure your food in order to avoid staying in the throes of ED.
What resources supported your recovery?
Watching Christian-based messages via conferences and televangelists like Joyce Meyer, John Gray, Andy Stanley, and Charles Stanley every day, as well as reading my Bible in the morning and listening to Christian music by Plumb, Lauren Daigle, Toby Mack, etc.
What helpful insight can you share with those who are still struggling?
Don’t ever stop trying for complete recovery. You deserve to live a life worth living and you can get through this. I put off recovery for so long because I convinced myself if I ate anything, it would cause me to gain weight instantly and uncontrollably. Fear was my guiding narrative.
When I was active in my eating disorder, I didn’t believe I was doing any harm to my body inside because I couldn’t feel it. I was functional, so I told myself I was fine. This is because our body is just trying to keep itself running; it isn’t focused on what’s wrong or what we are lacking. Therefore, I did not know the damage I was truly doing to myself until I was finished twenty years later.
Today, as a result of starvation and depletion of nutrients and minerals for so long, I am forced to face the forever consequences of my decision to turn inward: osteoporosis, which caused three breaks to my arm in one year; hypothyroidism, resulting in my need to take a medication for my thyroid, as directed, for the rest of my life (should I misuse or forget to take this medication, I could lose my chance of having a working system); and extremely low vitamin D, which requires IV treatment once or twice a year as well as a high-dose vitamin D medication.
There is an easier and softer way to handle our distress; don’t let it go on as long as I did.
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