Is Full Recovery from an Eating Disorder Possible?

Becky Henry continues to bring hope, help and healing to those impacted by eating disorders. In this post she discusses full recovery from an eating disorder, a controversial topic.

Yes it is. I know a LOT of people who are FULLY RECOVERED from an eating disorder. How do we know they are fully recovered?  That is the trick question, it looks different for each person but there are common themes.  

Here are three of the FULLY RECOVERED people I know:

Arielle Bair wrote about it back in February of this year, see it in my blog posts here:  Her summary is this: - “Because my life doesn’t revolve around food, exercise, feelings of hunger, my own image in the mirror, the way my clothes fit, what people say to me regarding appearance or success/failure.”

Carolyn Costin, who runs eating disorders treatment centers in California and is soon opening more in NY is fully recovered. I interviewed her for my book, Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders, buy the book and you can read her story. 

Kathleen MacDonald who worked for the Eating Disorders Coalition for years and now works for Kantor and Kantor helping families fight insurance company denials is fully recovered and wrote about how she got there.  This summer Kathleen posted this on Facebook and generously said any of us could share it anytime. It’s long (but short for Kathleen), but she has a lot of important tips to share on HOW she got to FULLY RECOVERED. 

“So how did you turn things around?” is one of the most common questions I get about my recovery-process. I wish there was an easy/short answer…but there isn’t. (don’t worry –this won’t be one of my lonnnnnnnnnnnngggggg-winded status to detail the answer) ~ There were several key components to my final recovery process that led to me becoming recovered…here are a few:

a. I got serious about nutrition and I stopped making me the “exception” to needing to eat
b. I got serious about gaining body fat
c. I learned to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable and I didn’t fall back into the disease every time my body image felt like hell or my guts distended/I felt pregnant
d. I got serious about the fact that every purge could be my last
e. I got serious about the fact that it wasn’t safe to exercise (I ended up taking nearly 2 years off from exercise –which was really hard to do) when I was under-nourished and under-hydrated
f. I realized that I needed to ‘over-nourish’ my body in an effort to replenish and repair all the damage done (even if my bloodwork was ‘normal’)
g. I kept Kitty Westin and Ron & Sally Crist George in my heart/prayers ever day 
h. I put God in the center of my recovery-process (along with nutrition)
i. I did not listen to the doctors who told me that I had to give up gluten and dairy b/c I had “intolerances” — of COURSE I had intolerances to those foods…I had intolerance to most foods b/c my body was so screwed up from all the years of ‘dieting’
j. “suicide is not an option” became my mantra — no matter what, suicide is never the answer
k. I disconnected myself from unhealthy relationships
l. Recovering became my number one focus –above school, fun, relationships, etc… First Job = recovering
m. I dared to dream that RECOVERED existed and I sought after it with all my heart (it exists, trust me!)
n. I put the emotional stuff on hold until my brain was better healed – (and guess what –after my brain was healed and I was thinking clearly for the first time in 16 years, I realized that the emotional stuff that had caused me so much pain and trauma…it wasn’t as bad as my ED brain had convinced me…and I was able to heal from it vs. sink into deep despair)
o. I got rid of life-expectations that I had for myself (ie: I must have my Ph.D. by the time I’m 30)…and I just focused on recovering…and I trusted that Ph.D programs would still be available when I was recovered  
p. I stopped trying to help others and I learned to 100% focus on me
q. Gretz, the Super Setter –enough said.
r. I learned to forgive myself
s. I ate thru the pain
t. I stopped purging
u. I stopped believing that I was ugly
v. I stopped believing that my body is less-than-beautiful when I am healthy
w. I stopped thinking that cellulite is ugly
x. I got rid of my scale
y. I healed my body image issues thru nutrition, ‘sitting with it’, and thru learning to see myself and everyone else thru the eyes of God –which means that I see every single human being as beautiful.
z. I never gave up on the enigmatic power of Hope.

So, my point is that if you or your loved one is in recovery and someone says, “You’ll live with this your whole life and always have to be fighting it.” You can say, “You know what, I’m not accepting that. I have heard of fully recovered people and that is what I’m going for. I need that hope and will hold onto that.”


ps. I’d love to hear YOUR story of fully recovered, we need these to give people hope. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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