…every week, every day, every minute. Right now, recovery has to be a choice. Recovery has to be the only choice. It is the choice between life and death, and I don’t mean to be dramatic. It is the choice between sickness and health. My therapist describes it as the choice between being alive and “well”.
When December and final exams hit, it wasn’t an option for me not to go back to treatment. My therapist said it was “through hell and high water” that I would be admitted to a higher level of care. I didn’t really have a choice. The “choice” I made to go back to treatment ultimately only felt like a choice because it was when I was finally making the choice to fully recover.
And that is terrifying and frustrating at the same time. Why do I have to choose recovery all the time if I didn’t choose to have an eating disorder and I didn’t choose to relapse?
Quick pause here: eating disorders are not and have never been a choice. One of the most offensive responses I’ve heard while opening up and sharing about my experiences (hello vulnerability!) was that the person “tried to give herself an eating disorder, but couldn’t do it.” And this was said in response to me sharing, as if it were a supportive thing to say?
Eating disorders are highly complex illnesses that have biological (think genetics), social, and environmental components to them. We couldn’t choose these illnesses if we wanted to. Not that I would understand why anyone would want to… this is not fun, this is not glamourous or special. The closest thing I can compare this to is being trapped in your own personal Hell.
With that said, this is why recovery is so frustrating. Here you are, stuck with an illness you never asked for, being asked to do the hard things like eating, and the nearly impossible things, like processing years of different hurt and pain, or traumatic experiences. And it’s not like this is a quick fix, either. When you’re back to eating regularly again, you’re not just magically recovered. There’s still so much work that has to happen once you start eating again. Think of this as the stabilization period, where your major focus is on restoring your body, and giving it all the major nutrients it’s been missing, and desperate for, for so long.
I often think that eating is simultaneously the hardest and the easiest part of recovery. Meals are so challenging in recovery, especially when in treatment. However, eating disorders are not about the food. And that’s really tough to wrap your head around when you’re in the depths of it.
What that means is, you can be eating regularly and “normally” and still have an eating disorder. You can have work left to do and still have an eating disorder. You can be in recovery and still have work to do to strengthen and maintain your recovery. Full recovery is possible and amazing, but it is lots of hard work.
And as frustrating and potentially upsetting as that can be and feel like, when you have to choose recovery every day, it has to be worth it. I have so many life worth living goals, and there is no way I can get to them with my eating disorder standing in the way. And so, minute by minute, I chose recovery.
Hi, I'm Charlotte! I'm a 24 year old navigating life in NYC and mental health recovery. I am passionate about public health and eliminating stigma.