NEDA Week Special: Reasons to Recover
Photo taken November 2016, four months prior to recovery.
Today's post is a blast from the past - a look at a list I was asked to make almost two years ago.
When I first began recovering, I was seeing a therapist pretty regularly. I was lucky to have so much support, even though such a huge part of me didn't want to keep pushing. As many of you know, recovery is hard. Sometimes I would just sit there and listen to her talking, wondering if her words would ever make a difference.
A few sessions in, she gave me homework. I internally rolled my eyes when she announced this - I had just graduated college and wasn't interested in some cheesy workbook about my "feelings" or some shit. However, the assignment was easy enough so I decided to at least give it a shot.
She asked me to make two lists: reasons to recover, and reasons to relapse. At first I was just excited to make the relapse list. I thought maybe I'd be able to come up with a sound reason to go back, one that even my therapist couldn't refute. I was still very desperate to curl back up in the cold arms of my illness.
I drove home and sat down in front of my MacBook, staring at a blank white screen for what felt like hours. I had decided to start with the relapse list but to my astonishment, I could not think of a single thing.
In my solitude, I began to get a little frustrated and ashamed. I shouldn't have been trying to come up with reasons to relapse, but it seemed like something bigger than me was trying to send me a message.
I decided to put it aside for the moment and start with the recovery list.
My fingers began flying over the keyboard as the list grew longer and longer, my heart swelling with hope and promise with each statement. At the same time, the list was heartbreaking. It became clear to me through these black symbols on a white screen how much I had been depriving myself.
By the time I had reached the end of the list, I was sobbing. This was a major turning point in my recovery - a realization that I could learn to live again. And I wanted to.
At the bottom of the page was the title "Reasons to Relapse" with one measly bullet point in the form of a question: "to be...skinny?"
I still have the original recovery list, and I want to share it with you in hopes that it inspires you to pursue these goals, or better yet: make some of your own. It may feel like you're out of options, but you never are. In fact the most important option you have is always there: to pursue your freedom.
My list felt impossible to tackle at first, but looking back it seems so simple. That's what an eating disorder does - it makes you feel incapable of everyday life. I read it today, two years into recovery, and smile at how much I have accomplished since then. So much more than I ever saw for myself.
Whether you are suffering from an eating disorder or not, I encourage you to build your own "Reasons to Recover" list. Writing goals down on paper makes them smaller, less overwhelming, and possible. It takes away a little of the power of that voice in your head telling you you'll never figure it out, and it outlines a plan that allows you to be able to.
Take what you will from this list and tailor it to your own happiness and health. Give yourself the life you really want. No one is capable of doing so but YOU.
March 13, 2017
Taylor's Reasons for Recovery:
1. Having a period again, like a real woman.
2. Having a butt and boobs and hips.
3. Being able to lift heavy things.
4. Not being too weak at work all of the time.
5. Not being so tired every night.
6. Not being so tired in the middle of the day.
7. Going out for meals with family and friends.
8. Going out at night and not being scared that I'll be too hungry or tired or cold.
9. Not having to conserve every ounce of my energy (because I need it to starve myself).
10. Realizing that it's okay to eat until I am satisfied.
11. Trying new types of foods and restaurants.
12. Donating blood.
13. Having a real smile on my face.
14. Sitting down on a chair and not being in pain from my bones sticking out.
15. Eating snacks when I feel a little hungry.
16. The end of BODY CHECKING!!!
17. Being capable of sexual arousal again.
18. Being able to go to someone's house without the fear of them offering me food.
19. Being able to eat sweets if I feel like it.
20. Going out on dates.
21. Meeting new people and having conversations.
22. Fitting into clothes and not having everything be too big all the time.
23. Not having to wear multiple layers of clothes when it's 70 degrees out.
24. Working out because I WANT to and not because I feel like I have to.
25. Approaching cardio with a healthy attitude and not a detrimental one.
26. Feeling attractive to people and not like a sickly child.
27. Having a head full of hair, glowing skin and bright eyes.
28. Not being afraid to fall or trip because I know I have enough protective fat that I won't break any bones.
29. Having interests and hobbies, writing again.
30. Having the option to have children one day.
I never thought I'd get to say I completed this entire list, and I DEFINITELY never thought I'd get to say I accomplished everything and more.