I know this subject is one often surrounded by conflict, disagreement, and self interpretation. I have many opinions from my personal interpretation, based on my past experiences, current recovery and future planning in life. I recognize that while I know what works for me, that interpretation may very well not work for another. There is a lack of research in the area of recovery as well, including no consistent, agreed upon definition by all. I honestly don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I obviously see a need for research, and for there to be research there needs to be well defined terms, but I think this area will always be complicated.
For purposes of self discovery, insight, and finding our journey in this non linear path through life, defining what recovery means to us I believe is important. I see people in early recovery ask me what recovery means, what does it look like, etc. So this discussion is important, because I believe it is an individual journey to determining what recovery means to them. With that being said I would like to address NEDA and the conference this time as compared to last year.
Last year there was a panel discussing recovery, with people who had written books, and had struggled with their own eating disorder, and their ONLY message was RecoverED. I personally struggled with this a lot and had a lot of emotions about it. I found it was almost a one sided opinion and take from NEDA that recoverED was the end all be all. I found this black and white thinking at the time. That there is either sick or well and over it. I have not ventured into this discussion before because I honestly thought about it for a year, and asked on twitter and Facebook what recovery meant to them. To me, in the world of ED, I often think there is a LOT of black and white thinking and I felt the sick or recoverED message to be missing a lot of grey. I also heard from people who thought, if not recoverED, they weren’t doing recovery well enough. And we all know how perfectionist tendencies and thoughts, as well as OCD, can make this a challenge in recovery. I think there is a huge area of grey, and have had discussions with this in person with many people. I want to share a few of the opinions on my Facebook page and then discuss NEDA 2010 in terms of this discussion.
- I wish I knew – Kelly Lowe
- Recovery is the journey to a healthy body-mind relationship where I’ve learned to trust my body and my body has learned to trust me – Gina Formella
- Recovery means finding myself, a person lost within my disease. Its not only recovering from a disease, but recovering a personality, a spirit, emotions, enjoyments…recovering life – Jenn Sternecker
- Recovery looks like a leg in traction. You start out broken and brutalized, but eventually you begin to heal – Jennifer C Delage
- Recovery is living life, enjoying life, and seeing in color. Recovery is about feeling healthy, listening to my body, and looking in the mirror and seeing all of me and accepting what I see (and feel). I may not always like it but to keep moving forward acceptance is important…… – Jennifer White
- Recovery for me is being FREE from my distorted beleif system that I have navigated most of my life by. It has taken years to build up this foundation and it will take much time and commitment to change it. This means being free from food and weight obsession and learning who I am is ok and I needn’t be ashamed of what I have endured in life and that I am ok as is – that the belief that I am bad at my core is FALSE and is a lie that my ED tells me. I don’t need to DO things to make myself “good” or “worthy” – I simply AM by just being me. There is one else like me in the world and there never will be another person like me again – EVER. I need to marinate in that and learn to discover who I am without my healthy coping behaviors and change the way I see my place in the world – Heather A. Klemm
- Recovery is acceptance of myself exactly as God intended me to be. Recovery is not just physical acceptance–it is mental, emotional and spiritual as well. Recovery is learning how to live as an active participant in my own life and in society rather than fighting it every step of the way. Recovery is not just acknowledging these things but acting them out on a daily basis. Recovery is being humble enough to understand being rightsized and being honest enough to see that “rightsized” is always enough – Eleanor Garrett
This year at NEDA I heard a VARIETY of thoughts on recovery, what that means, and how there is a lot of confusion about the path and where it starts, goes, and/or if it ends at some point. I found this open honest communication inspiring and hopeful from the perspective as an advocate. I am only one voice, but I seek to share other voices in recovery, that is and will always be what ViR is about. I think we all could benefit from discussing this issue, and understanding there is a huge area that needs to be looked at more from a research standpoint, as well as an advocacy standpoint – we need to talk more about it to show what it is to individuals. I think the more voices we hear on this issue, and more sharing of thoughts, could help all 1) feel less alone and 2) maybe further define recovery which could lead to better research, treatment, and discovery.
Today I heard “Who is the authority on recovery, how to define, and represent what it is? Is it the researchers, the clinicians, the person struggling or in recovery?” This is a fantastic question I will throw out there, and say I honestly don’t know. I think there is value in all voices. I believe researchers, clinicians, support networks, advocates, activists, people struggling and in recovery/recoverED all play a role in the further understanding of eating disorders. I believe each one will have valuable insights from findings, insights, discoveries, and what has worked and didn’t work in the past. We simply need to talk to eachother more. We already know there is a huge disconnect and time delay between research findings, to clinicians hands in order to provide better evidenced based care.
I think my own personal approach to how I view recovery is constantly evolving, like its own journey. This could be because where I am, the farther I get into recovery, being an advocate and hearing alternate views, etc. I think this is a strength for me. I think approaching topics with an open mind, and creating dialogues on these topics are crucial to the awareness of eating disorders. At this present moment I say I am “In Recovery” – for many reasons, and maybe that could be another blog post! But I am open to the journey, and education I gain being in this field, and am aware that this may change. I also believe that personal empowerment is important, and whatever empowers the individual, depending on where in the journey they are, is crucial to respect. If someone decides they feel they are healthy and in strong recovery, but want to be mindful of the journey, and they choose “in recovery” who is to say this is the wrong point of view? If someone decides in their life, they feel healthy and recovered and no longer feel they will ever struggle with it, who is to say this is a wrong point of view? This is a complicated subject, with a variety of voices, opinions, and in the end I feel “choose what empowers you in your own journey, be true to your voice.” I also think this idea of “freedom from ED” can exist whether you say you are “in recovery or recovered”, and often worry that “in recovery” is what needs further discussion, because it doesn’t automatically mean early recovery, and could very well mean strong long term recovery, without symptoms, and happy balanced in body, mind and spirit. I think it will be like a thesaurus, with underlying similarities, and common words used, mostly based on an individuals experience. I also will discuss in future blogs, the difference in the substance abuse 12 step model in comparison to eating disorder recovery, because in conceptualization and identification they are very different. I am glad this topic was brought up at NEDA, because we need to talk about these topics openly and with respect.
So I open this blog as a forum – to discuss and relate your opinions, personal experiences, and what you think about recovery.
- What does recovery mean to you? What does it include?
- When does recovery start?
- Do you believe that once you have an eating disorder you will be in recovery for your entire life? Why or why not?
- Do you believe it is possible to be recoverED? Why or why not?
Lets start a discussion, share voices, and hopefully we can all gain insight from one another. I thank NEDA for having a variety of voices, who brought up the subject in an open, inquisitive, and honest way.