Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Shannon

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**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. Shannon, a woman in recovery, opens up here about the recovery process and the resources, support, and self-care activities she has found helpful.

How would you describe recovery to someone currently struggling with an eating disorder?

It’s true when they say that it is REALLY hard. It is exhausting, uncomfortable, and might even be painful sometimes. Sometimes you might wonder if it is really better than life in your eating disorder, and you might miss your eating disorder. This is all normal. It is NOT a sign that you’re not cut out for recovery. If you could survive your eating disorder, you can survive recovery and experience not just the tiring, hard moments but the little glimpses of freedom that you get along the way.

What do you wish you knew about the recovery process before beginning treatment?

It will definitely take longer than you think. You’re going to think you’ll be in and out, back to normal life in no time, but that’s not how it goes for most people. Your eating disorder is a deep issue and not something you developed overnight. Be patient with yourself and don’t try to rush it. You’ll have a more solid foundation if you give yourself time and realize that there’s way more to it than just stopping your eating disorder behaviors.

How did others support you in recovery?

My mom was the biggest source of support. I feel lucky that she never questioned whether I needed treatment. I worried that she’d expect me to handle it on my own while still keeping up with the other aspects of my life, but she didn’t. She often said that she was trying to learn more about eating disorders as well, which made me feel like she was open to hearing about what it’s like to go through this.

Any resources you’ve found particularly helpful to your recovery?

All of Brené Brown’s books! I’ve read them all and now really enjoy her Unlocking Us podcast too. I have been able to connect what she says about shame to my eating disorder. I also appreciate that her lessons are grounded in research, because sometimes those types of lessons are so fluffy and I can’t relate to those as well.

Treatment itself was also tremendously helpful. I know that not everyone has access to it (for various reasons), but I found the group sessions so validating, and the regular check-ins were a good way to keep me accountable. I thought I could handle recovery on my own, but I really think I’d still be stuck now if I had not gotten some professional help.

What are your favorite ways to practice self-care in recovery?

I’m still learning how to fully relax and do things that I wouldn’t consider “productive,” but I do like crafts that allow me to create something. I used to do a lot of adult coloring books and now I’m really into those paint-by-number kits! It goes well with a podcast or audiobook too. 

We want to hear your voice of recovery! If you are interested in participating in our Recovery Conversation series, please email blog@emilyprogram.com to learn more.

Help is available for those struggling with an eating disorder. Find care for you or a loved one by calling The Emily Program at 1-888-364-5977 or by completing our online form.

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