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Is Eating Disorder Recovery Really Worth It?

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Recovering from an eating disorder is probably the hardest thing I will ever have to do. I can’t say I’m recovered, or even close, but I’m getting there. It is so easy to give up, to give in to the voices inside your head that tell you you’re not good enough and that the world would be better off without you. Every day I ask myself the same thing. Is it worth it? Is recovery really worth it?

I could look back on my recovery and say it was the worst time of my life. The hours I spent sat with nurses in the dining room on an inpatient unit, holding a biscuit between a tissue because I was too scared to touch it. The NG feeds that take every shred of dignity away, the bloating, the stomach ache when you finish a proper meal after year of only eating children’s portions. Having to have someone watch you pee or shower so you keep your meal down and don’t do start jumps in the bathroom. The time you miss at school/college due to endless doctor’s appointments and hospital admissions, as you instead learn how to eat and portion out food and make sandwiches and cope with all the unknown emotions you have been previously numbed by starvation.

But is that really worse than continuing to live within the wrath of an eating disorder? When the days were filled with smashing bowls of porridge on the floor, watching your parents fall apart as you cry alone in your room, hiding food up your sleeves, in your bra, in your drink, lying to everyone around you and pushing away your friends? The stomach pain, the heart flutters, a brain that thinks of nothing but food, food, food…

I chose to fight. Of course there are bad days in recovery. Days when others have to choose it for you. But there are also good days. Days when you will have competitions with the other patients to see who can do the smelliest re-feeding fart (because when you start to fuel your body it takes a little time to adjust to having adequate nutrition!). Days when you can eat ice cream at the beach with your friends, when you can hold an actual real life conversation instead of your eyes constantly darting around the room unable to focus, when you can start to live.

In time the good days will come around more often and last a little longer, and you will be so grateful for all the times you chose to fight instead of giving in to the eating disorder.

So when you find yourself questioning recovery, the answer is your functioning heart. The answer is Coco Pops for breakfast. The answer is the look on your boyfriend’s face when you suggest going to the cinema and you share a bag of popcorn. The answer is the endless possibilities that await you.

The answer is yes. Recovery really, really is worth it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo by Maria Teijeiro

Originally published: February 9, 2017
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