For years now, I have touted the beautiful, undeniable truth that anyone struggling to overcome an eating disorder has the ability to achieve full, sustainable recovery. While it seemed like a gutsy move in 1998 to announce such a contrary to popular belief sentiment on our A New Beginning website, so firm was I in my belief that eating disorder sufferers can and do attain full recovery, that it was a promise I was willing to shout out to the world!
Working to provide optimistic truth to eating disorder sufferers AND our eating disorder community, my hope was that my humble belief in this bold new possibility would take expectations for eating disorder treatment from mere management of eating disorder symptoms to what, I believe, should be everyone’s expectation; a life lived with a complete and beautiful absence of any and all thoughts, behaviors, urges and insecurities related to food, body or weight. AND so much more!
So much more? Nearly every day, our hard-working, beloved clients ask us, “What exactly IS full recovery?” What can I expect from life, my behaviors, my self when I am fully recovered?
Full recovery is so much more that the abstinence of eating disordered behaviors, thoughts and urges. Yes, the abstinence of these life-shrinking disordered behaviors and emotional traps are imperative, and are definitely a sign that you are on the right treatment path. But full recovery is so much more.
Here are a few of my favorite answers to the question,
“What does it mean to be fully recovered?”
When you are fully recovered…
1. True control will come as a result of you learning how to “step into the driver’s seat” of your own life. You will no longer hand over the keys of your life to someone else, or blame others for taking a wrong turn. When YOU take true control, there will no longer be the need to seek pseudo control by engaging in restrictive eating, purging, or compulsive exercise.
2. Emotional safety will come as a result of learning how to face your fears and by addressing interpersonal conflicts, not running from them. When you are in full recovery, feeling “better” will come as a result of addressing and resolving what is bothering you, as opposed to avoiding, retreating or running from your issues (and into the arms of ED!).
3. You will feel empowered by your ability to use your mouth to express your truth, your feelings, and your needs; as opposed to using your mouth to act out feelings of hurt, emptiness, and emotional need.
4. You will step out into the world confidently, feeling safe to be exactly who you are and who you were meant to be, without apology, insecurity, or the need to hide your true self.
5. You will spend so much time ENGAGING in life, that you will no longer have the time (or the need) to give your life’s precious time away to ED.
Full recovery? Is it possible? YOU BET!!!
For all who are working so hard to find their true self within the seemingly defying riddle of an eating disorder, please know that while complex, eating disorders DO have a rhyme and a reason to them, and most importantly, everyone’s eating disorder riddle can be solved!
Wishing you health, love and FULL recovery!
Dr. Julie T. Anné is a licensed clinical psychologist and eating disorder specialist. She is the founder and clinical director of A New Beginning and TheHealthyWeighOut, both eating disorder specialty treatment centers located in Scottsdale, Arizona. For more information regarding Dr. Anné and her recovery work, please visit: anewbeginning.com or call: 480-941-4247.