Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Olivia M.
**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 shares voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. In this post, Olivia M. opens up about seeking help and staying motivated, the resources helpful to her healing, and advice for others in recovery.
When and why did you decide to seek help for your eating disorder?
I knew I needed help when it became clear to me that my eating disorder was affecting more than just me. For a long time, the selfish part of the eating disorder had me believing that I really wasn’t hurting anyone or that I was only hurting myself. I honestly didn’t understand why my parents and friends were so concerned about what I ate and wished that they would just leave me alone. Sometimes I even thought that they were jealous or something, so that shows how powerful an eating disorder can be. But the longer it went on, there were more moments when I sensed that my parents were not angry or annoyed with me but actually sad and worried that my health was going to get worse. I didn’t want to hurt them, and that was a big motivator early in my recovery.
What helped you to stay motivated in the recovery process?
Staying motivated was really hard at times. Even though I couldn’t imagine what life without my disorder would be like, I had to fight hard every day for whatever that was. No one really tells you what recovery looks like, so of course I didn’t know whether or not it would be worth it. But I think I found some motivation in remembering that life with an eating disorder is pretty miserable. It was clear that I wasn’t going to be happy or be able to achieve different life goals if I kept using those eating disorder behaviors so I needed a different option. I didn’t know whether I would be happy or successful in recovery either, but at least there was the possibility there.
What resources supported your recovery?
Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me by Jenni Schaefer were helpful because they made me realize that I wasn’t my eating disorder. The negative thoughts and harmful behaviors were just part of my illness and I could separate myself from them by listening to the part of myself that hoped for something better. It was so helpful to realize that there was a part of me that had different values and priorities than worrying about food and weight. It was really quiet at first because Ed was so loud, but it was there and I just had to listen.
How do you define recovery?
The one word I’d use to define recovery would be growth. I have grown so much throughout the process, not just around food but also in other areas of my life. Recovery forces you to get to know yourself without the eating disorder and opens your eyes to all the other things you can do with your life when you’re free from this illness
What advice do you have for others in recovery?
Something I learned in therapy was to do the next right thing for recovery. Sometimes taking it one day at a time can feel like too much, so I’d say to just take it one meal or snack at a time. There is no use in worrying about tomorrow’s dinner today, so just let that time come when it does.
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