Four years ago on the 11th of April, I was admitted voluntarily to the eating disorders inpatient program at a psychiatric hospital in Melbourne. Each year, I find myself commemorating that day with some form of reflection on my progress. Over the past year, I’ve learnt some important lessons which have furthered my recovery journey enormously. These have been:
- Recovery is not linear.
- I am an adult with an adult body.
- I am my best friend.
- My recovery is my business.
- Things make more sense in macro.
- My recovery will last as long as I do.
- Normal is an individual metric.
Today’s post concerns the lesson that my recovery will last as long as I do.
I’ve realised the disordered voice (Ed) will always try to justify recovery by putting a time limit on its requirements. Recovery may require me to eat cake more than my rules allow, even to do so and then not exercise that day (shock, horror), but Ed has tended to deal with the discomfort of this fact by allowing recovery behaviours within a certain window of time.
Of course, this means that recovery is never actually achieved and becomes much more like a guilt- and starvation-fuelled binge than actual recovery. Recovery becomes a fleeting chance to be normal before reality sets in once more and Ed regains his supremacy.
While Ed may have justified recovery to me in these terms previously, I will not stand for it again. My recovery will last as long as I do. The crazy rule-breaking cake eating will continue until the rule that it breaks is nothing but a memory.
My recovery is none of Ed’s business. It is my way to free myself from his shackles, to live a life in which my core beliefs about myself finally align with my actions toward myself. My recovery needs no justification other than this: I value myself, I love myself, and I want to be as well as I can be.
If you’re looking for more information about eating disorders, or indeed any other mental health issues, the Australian Government’s mindhealthconnect website is a really useful tool which collects all the relevant resources from organisations such as beyondblue and The Butterfly Foundation into one place.
Tomorrow, for the last of my seven posts, I will discuss the lesson that normal is an individual metric.
Love, hope and peace from Emma.