by Cheryl Kerrigan
Author of Telling Ed No! and Other Practical Tools to Conquer Your Eating Disorder and Find Freedom (Gurze Books)
I suffered from my eating disorder for over 30 years until one day I decided (through the love and help of a family intervention) that it was enough. I wanted to live my life free from Ed (eating disorder) without rules, judgment or fear. I wanted to recover.
When I was in treatment the staff talked about recovery. I had difficulty imagining what “recovery” looked like or sounded like as it seemed so out of reach for me. Recovery seemed like a dream and something that only other people get. I wondered…could I be recovered too? Could I live my life without these rules Ed tells me? Does full recovery even exist or is everyone just telling me what they think I need to hear? I didn’t really have the answer but decided to trust and have faith that full recovery exists, and it was something I can achieve. So I committed to myself and my recovery process and along with my treatment team, I got to work and in the end it paid off……Full Recovery!!
The recovery process is long and hard and different for every individual. However, what is required from everyone is hard work, commitment, trust and patience. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, but rest assured……full recovery does happen. It CAN happen for you too! The process varies for all but can happen by doing a multitude of things (over and over) that work for you in your journey and path to freedom. Things like: going to therapy appointments, going to your nutritionist, perhaps seeking a higher level of care, eating fear foods, eating 100% of your meal plan every day, crying, journaling, expressing your feelings in a safe way, self-care, taking risks, reaching out for support, being honest with yourself, your treatment team and others, affirmations, talking back to Ed, transforming Ed’s rules and never giving up. What’s important is remembering that when/if you fall to get right back up holding the hand of recovery. Learn why you fell and make a plan to keep yourself safe should it happen again. Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow from.
In the beginning of my recovery process, I NEVER thought I would fully recover. Some people had the opinion that I would just have to learn to live with my disorder in a functional way and said recovery didn’t even exist. I wasn’t accepting that answer. So, with hard work, commitment and patience I did fully recover, and it is beyond amazing! Recovery does exist! You might ask, what does full recovery look like? Well, I’m sure every person would answer this differently, but for me being fully recovered is a life of pure freedom. I live with no rules or behaviors with or around food. I have no guilt or shame associated with food or my body. I love myself and my body. I take risks. I have a voice and use it. I don’t own a scale, don’t know my weight, and I am proud of that fact. I can eat anything I want. Ed doesn’t speak to me anymore. I can shop for food and clothes without stress and anxiety. I love to discover who I am and am proud of it. I practice self care—a lot—without guilt. I can say No. I am healthy and strong. I am happy. I make and achieve my goals…….and so so so much more. I have a saying,”Ed takes and Recovery Gives.” The possibilities are endless.
I pass on to you hope and strength to let you know that YOU CAN fully recover from your eating disorder….no matter what. Full Recovery IS POSSIBLE. Full Recovery is not something that just happens to everyone else—it can happen for you too!! Never give up on yourself or your recovery. You can do this! I believe in you.
With hope, health and strength,
For more about Cheryl, visit www.cherylkerrigan.com