Recovery Doesn’t Have to Be a Solo Journey
**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.
Megan Bazzini is a writer—aspiring YA novelist, cringe-worthy poet, and mental health essayist. She’s now a business school grad, who has lived in LA, Hong Kong, and Milan. Now she’s returned home to New York and is a proud chihuahua rescue mom and corporate strategist at a major financial services institution. Megan’s eating disorder recovery mantra is, “Keep going. Recovery is worth it.” You can follow her on Twitter (@BazziniBooks) or visit her portfolio.
When I began recovery for my restrictive eating disorder as an adult, telling loved ones about my illness was an out-of-body experience. I was acutely aware of how fast my heart beat, how my insides heated. I’d wring my hands together and hear a voice that must have been mine sharing the facts of my illness, reminding me of my commitment to recovery. Now that I am solidly in remission, I know those were my body’s physical tells of how uncomfortable it is to be vulnerable.
I didn’t think anyone could possibly understand that while I believed it was necessary to leave my eating disorder behind, committing to recovery was still a painful decision. I wanted to grieve my eating disorder, which in many ways had become like a best friend, albeit a very toxic and manipulative one. I was incredibly lonely after leaving it behind.
Another thing I feared was judgment. Eating disorders are still terribly stigmatized and misunderstood. I worried others would mistake my fear of weight gain with vanity—especially because I knew that physical recovery and restoration were a necessary part of healing. I felt self-doubt and worried about the process. I asked myself, “Once I beat my eating disorder, what will I have?” (The answer? Everything.)
My loved ones were rarely surprised when I admitted I fought anorexia. They had seen firsthand the years-long mental health destruction. After I openly labeled my drastic withdrawal as an eating disorder, it only confirmed what they already knew: I needed help. I needed their shoulders to lean on during the most trying challenge yet, recovery.
With each person I leaned on, I learned new and gratifying lessons about how rewarding it is to share my mental illness with others. The connection and support I found rendered many of my fears irrelevant. It was liberating to take off my public mask—the one that hid my mental illness. When I began owning my struggles, I made deeper connections with others and I freed myself from the lurking recovery loneliness.
Reintegrating into life in this recovered mindset, I’ve learned that everyone has their struggles. Learning that has made sharing mine easier. Even though almost everyone I’ve shared with has never had an eating disorder, they can conceptualize how overwhelming it feels to be off-base from homeostasis. My loved ones have been supportive listeners when the thoughts get too loud to bear alone.
Recovery is hard, but it’s humbling. It’s where I finally learned that my eating disorder creates pain, not specialness. I’m worthy of enjoying this new life for many reasons and am no longer defined by my mental illness. Recovery doesn’t have to be a solo journey, but for everyone out there going through an eating disorder or breaking free from it and fearing they are all alone: I see you, I hear you, and—you are not in this alone.