What Life After Recovery is ACTUALLY Like

There’s a fine line between being in recovery and being “recovered”.
It’s not a distinction that’s all that obvious, but it will reveal itself in the subtlest of ways. It’s a long, slow transition but it will make itself evident to you. One day things will click. Decisions that once triggered an anxiety bomb will now seem miniscule. Spontaneity will become fun as opposed to the epitome of hell. In your recovery, you have become so dedicated to seeking out your mental and physical health that the lifestyle becomes second nature. You no longer have to weigh pros and cons of a decision, because you already WANT to make the RIGHT one.
One day, you’ll take a step back and say to yourself, “Hey, life isn’t so bad. It’s not as grey as it once was.” You’ll have a wave of relief wash over you, a feeling of narrow escape. But you did it.
Welcome to the other side.
My life after recovery is, well, amazing. I’m so blessed and grateful and simply can’t believe that at one point, I wanted to throw this all away.
You may not be able to see it now, but you have so much potential. There are so many options. The world is SO BIG.
Life isn’t black, or grey, or whatever dull color is cascading a film over your perspective. I had my run with depression, and anxiety, and OCD. I remember waking up each day and feeling disappointed that I did. I remember dragging myself down my high school’s walkway, my bones aching with each step, a North Face layered over two sweatshirts the week before spring break, the world muffled around me, my mind counting my steps and trying so desperately to ignore my rumbling stomach. I know what that pit in your stomach feels like. I know how heavy it is, how much it’s dragging you down. I know the unexpected and uncontrollable mood swings. One second you feel like you can handle this, this thing that is life. The next minute, you’re attacked with a feeling that your life is meaningless, that you’re incapable, that one day you’re going to be old and alone and STILL sad.
The only way out is through. There is no other secret or mystery to it. You have to fight.
Okay, random tangent. These blog posts are always raw rants…but it’s important to get these thoughts out there.
Back to recovery vs. recovered!!
Personally, I am well into a post-recovery life. When I post on my Instagram about feats or skipping workouts or eating freely or whatever it may be, I’m not looking for people to say they are “proud” of me. I’m not looking for validation or praise. I appreciate the love and support, but I share those things to reiterate to you all what life after recovery looks like. When I make decisions now that would have been impossible for me before, I share them to display my change in mindset, to show you what YOU could have if you truly commit to your recovery.
Another thing. Weight-restored and recovered are not the same thing. To physically reach a weight that a doctor has deemed “safe” for you does not translate into mental freedom. Just throwing it out there, my doctor’s “goal weight” for me was 25 pounds less than what I weigh now (or at least the last time I weighed myself…don’t have a reason to do that anymore!). Once I reached that weight, my life didn’t magically get better. It’s like turning a year older on your birthday. The number changes, but you don’t FEEL different. That’s what weight-restored means to me. It’s getting older, but that’s it. Recovered is when your mind and body connect, when you’re confident in your ability to be responsible for yourself. When you can talk to your body and honor it. When your life becomes more than food, fitness, and appearance. When you begin to define yourself as a person, outside of these elements. When your heart feels light and the world has color and things are vibrant.
That being said, I have to come right out and say it: I don’t believe in being 100% recovered.
Sounds hypocritical, right? Let me explain.
Living a life after recovery makes me “recovered”. I’m no longer dying from an eating disorder. I’m no longer battling severe depression. But in my opinion, I don’t believe eating disorders go away completely.
See, being recovered is everything I described it as and more. However, to be completely honest, the thoughts never disappear. Instead, they dissolve into faint whispers, dancing around in your head once in a blue moon. Being recovered means hearing those thoughts, screaming over them, attacking them with your health, and silencing them. Being recovered is the ability to eradicate the irrational. It is NOT the absence of the irrational. Being recovered makes you strong enough to confront whatever thoughts still have the audacity to show up and putting a brutal end to them. There’s no other way to say this, but once you have an eating disorder, you always “have” one. You can’t unlearn the horrible things your disorder forced you to learn, you can’t un-see food and exercise in the ways you did when you were sick. However, a recovered lifestyle and mindset allows you to modify these irrational perceptions to conform to healthy ones. I’m recovered, but my eating disorder will always be a part of my past. I will sometimes have thoughts pop up against my will. I sometimes will flash back to awful memories, and feel an unwanted sense of mourning. These are natural. It’s okay to acknowledge that the eating disorder is still faintly there. I’m sure there are many people out there that could disagree with me, but I will stand by this point. I’m thriving in health and happiness, but I still have struggles. It’s normal and part of life. I’m not weak for telling you all that my ED will always be here, even though it is in bits and pieces instead of an army. I’m strong for acknowledging it, accepting it, and fighting like hell against it each and every day.