Recovery Happens in the Little Moments, Celebrate Them
**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 an anorexia survivor. She’s an American graduating from an Italian business school in June 2022. Her country-hopping uni years opened her heart and mind to choosing herself, recovery, and giving back. This is only the beginning of her advocacy for destigmatizing eating disorders. She is seeking literary representation for five novels featuring characters with eating disorders. You can follow her on Twitter (@BazziniBooks).
If you’re thinking about recovery, just starting, or have been fighting your eating disorder for what feels like forever, you may know the contradictory vengeance of reckoning the recovery roller coaster. Your emotions may range from exuberance at seeing colors in sharp clarity for the first time in years to the absolute terror of facing your fears and the unknown about the other side. Recovery is all about feeling this fear and reconciling it, by naming it and doing it anyway. It’s these little rebellions against our eating disorders that separate us from it and eventually give us our lives back. I’ve celebrated the little milestones in my recovery. During my sixth-month mark, I wrote a letter to myself.
Dear me on day one,
You will prove your fears wrong. In months, you will be sitting in the largest jeans you’ve ever owned, living each day with unconditional permission to eat. You’re getting over the gaping hole starvation left in you, the endless want. It scares you now, but it’s a paradox. You can’t tell if you’re more scared of what you are eating your way out of or that once you start to refeed, it will never stop.
But one of your first recovery mantras is “The famine is over.” Your body has begun to trust you and food is just food. Fuel. Nourishment. But first, you had to redefine FULL. Right now, you are too malnourished to think clearly. I’ve learned that anorexia shrinks brain matter, so it’s not your fault you think that every bite—disobeying your eating disorder—makes you weak. No, it makes you strong.
You will stay consistent, dedicated, motivated, and in just a few months, your life will be full of little joys, like crossing the street to walk in the sunshine or sipping drinks with friends you trust, love, respect, and value on a random Tuesday evening. You’ll make eye contact with strangers. You’ll make spontaneous plans. Your lap will become a three-year-old’s favorite spot to sit and show you animal toys. Your mental math skills will get worse because you don’t waste so much time on nutrition labels and calorie counts.
Suddenly, your days will become so long—endless, really. Because the time and energy spent fueling an eating disorder and anxiety disorder at the same time no longer controls you. Oh yeah, and your OCD will feel like a distant memory. Turns out nourishing your mind and soul helps those compulsions get quieter.
Your body image was hurt the longest, so it’s also going to take the longest to heal. But you are getting better at reframing those negative thoughts into positive ones. You’ll slowly peel off the mirror coverings and baggy layers to embrace your new body.
And one day, when I wasn’t looking, you became me. It’s been a bit difficult to recognize myself now, with light in my eyes. I’m having patience with the process. I’ve become a butterfly without looking, and that’s still taking some time to internalize and celebrate.
The anxiety doesn’t serve to protect either of us anymore, and for the first time in 21 years of life, it isn’t our keeper or our chains. We are going to keep going, as long as it takes, one day at a time. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. You are an anorexia survivor now, but you will be so much more. Mentor, friend, advocate. You’re doing this for the girl who thought her anxious world was the only option, who never knew how sweet it would be to talk. Tell your story, own your story, for in being vulnerable there is power. It saved your life; it got you to day one of the rest of your life.