A letter to myself in recovery
I hope all the pain and effort that I'm putting in is going to be worth it.
There’s a quote, “to live for the hope of it all”; more often than not, that's what I'm doing.
I'm not giving up but I'm sure not enjoying everything about my current situation. This is what life is like with the ED present. When you aren't trying to recover, you are merely surviving, in fact dying, and getting through each day by the skin of your teeth.
I don’t feel like I have properly lived for a while. I've struggled through each step and breath. It's when your body starts failing you and you still don't care that is the scariest. Who cares if my heart beats weirdly sometimes, I don't.
I feel like a walking corpse a lot of the time. Just moving through the motions of life instead of actually living. Restriction of food restricts life, it really does. Recovery is this shiny spectacle that feels so far out of reach that it isn't even worth thinking about.
I feel like the exception to the rule. I feel like I'm not actually ill. I feel like I'm just the odd one out. I feel like I'm both not ill enough, but at the same time too ill. An impossible paradigm that has just come true in my existence.
“If you aren't recovering you are dying”. This quote has echoed throughout my eating disorder. I’ve had times when I felt like there was no light at the end of the recovery tunnel, times where I feel so motivated and encouraged and times where I feel nothing towards recovery, living in a completely liminal state where I'm neither recovering nor living whilst engrained in the eating disorder.
Truthfully, every time I choose to listen to my ED, I’m killing off a small part of myself, not letting me live, not listening to what I want. Really, if you aren't killing your eating disorder, you are dying. I did think living with an eating disorder was like a symbiotic relationship, like a fish that cleans a shark and in return, the shark doesn't eat the fish. But that is just not true. The ED doesn't give you space, it slowly creeps back into your space and takes over. You can try to set a boundary but slowly the ED will chip away at it. Silently it takes over as you don't see just how much it has covered over you.
Whilst writing this I feel that I have a lot of the beliefs of someone in recovery but I'm just not able to put it into practice and that's where recovery being my own decision really scares me, as I feel no matter what I do, I can’t “beat” the ED. Like I’m simply not strong enough or that I’m just someone that will never recover.
I listen to these amazing “recovery influencers” who live these amazingly free lives after being terrifyingly ill. They all seem to be so strong and capable and have done so incredibly well when I feel I am just not strong enough to win this battle. I listen to the inspiring quotes, the relatable experiences and the raw honesty that they share yet I still feel this sense of otherness, that I am the factor affecting my chances of success. Is this something everyone in recovery feels? Is this a universal yet completely isolating feeling? Is this one of the very components of an eating disorder that makes us feel weaker when it is a commonly experienced feeling?
Whilst I might now be at the very beginning of the long climb ahead of me, I really hope at the top is freedom and all the happiness I know I've missed out on due to the pain of the ED. I really hope that the effort and the pain are going to be worth it.
If things don't feel like they can get any worse, what have I got to lose by seeing is letting go of the ED could make things better?
With that in mind, I feel like I only have one choice. So, looking forward, I pledge to myself to focus on the following:
I’m advocating for my healthcare. I’ve finally been referred to the ED team and I’m ready to hear what they have to say. I’m feeling really hopeful about the psychologist assigned to help me.
I’m keeping myself accountable when I move to university in September. I’m going to be completely honest about my intake when I’m in charge of it to make sure I’m keeping myself safe.
I am taking care of myself, by making time for self-care and doing difficult things because that is how I will care for myself.
If you are struggling with similar issues mentioned in this podcast, please reach out to the following resources, speak to your GP, or reach out to a loved one. Remember, you are not alone.
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