This week, the One Word blog linkup has “after” or “pretend” as the choices of words. I could write a post inspired by both of these words, but I need to choose one. When I found out about this week’s words, immediately an idea popped up in my mind, inspired also by my eating disorder recovery journaling project. What would my long-term goals for recovery be, and what would my life look like after I fully recover?
The answer to this question of course depends on the question: recover from what? Just my eating disorder or mental illness in general. In the latter case, I need to note that recovery is not the same as cure. Recovery means living beyond the illness, not necessarily without it. In Dutch, the word for “beyond” is “voorbij”, which in most cases connotes the thing we go beyond has passed. In English, the word “beyond” does not have such a connotation.
First, let’s pretend (ha, the other word sneaked in!)j that I can be fully cured of my eating disorder. This is in fact not just pretend, as people do live past their eating disorders. What would this look like?
- I would be able to snack without losing control.
- I would not feel guilty (most of the time) after eating.
- I would no longer compensate for (over)eating in an unhealthy way, such as by purging.
- I would feel okay about my body. This does not necessarily mean I’m at a healthy weight, as weight loss is a completely different journey from eating disorder recovery even if your main behavior is bingeing. It would simply mean I’d no longer hate my body.
- I would have and use healthy ways of coping with stress.
This is where recovery form mental illness in general, in my case borderline personality disorder, comes in. After all, one of my primary goals in recovery is to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Suppose I developed those healthy coping mechanisms. What else would I want to have accomplished after recovery? First, I’d like to feel mostly stable. I’d still have down days and up days, would still get angry at times, because that is human. I would, however, no longer experience those intense states of hopelessness which usually lead to destructive coping mechanisms or feel chronically empty.
Another way of looking at recovery, however, is to look at what I want my life to be like beyond my illness. In other words, what would I like to achieve in life in spite of my mental health problems. Here goes:
- Live with my husband.
- Be able to do a volunteer job>
- Be able to spend enough time on my hobbies not to get bored, but not so much that I get overwhelmed.
- Be grateful for the smaller and larger joys of life without immediately second-guessing myself.
Lastly, this is somewhat unrelated to recovery. It is more a general life goal. I’d love to write my autobiography.