After Recovery

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.

16 thoughts on “After Recovery

  1. I would absolutely love to read your autobiography and truly send all good thoughts your way for recovery and more. Thanks for sharing this here and also linking this up with us this week, too Astrid.


  2. I feel like an eating disorder must be really tough to move beyond. It’s not like you can totally stay away from food. I wish you good health and happiness with lots of progress!


  3. I have not had an eating disorder but suffer from pain and arthritis. I like the idea that recovery is not a cure. I don’t know that I will recover, but maybe I can look to a sort of after. After I learn to deal with the pain; after medicines are found that control the pain better. What will my life look like then. Thanks for making me see possibilities. 😉


  4. I would love to read an autobiography of yours, if this post is any indicator. Way to take a simple prompt and turn it into something powerful and meaningful in your life. I truly wish you the best of luck with learning to love yourself and develop a healthy relationship with food. I, myself, often struggle with both so I can relate.


  5. I would love to read your autobiography! Congratulations on turning a simple prompt into something so powerful and personal to you. I myself also struggle with both loving myself and developing a healthy relationship with food, so this was particularly poignant for me.


  6. As I read this, I kept thinking of the word balance – being able to eat enough but not too much, spend more time on hobbies but not be overwhelmed/obsessed. It’s all about balance and balance is so hard to achieve. Wishing you much success on your recovery journey!


  7. It seems like you know exactly where you are going and the best way for you to get there! That’s awesome! I have struggled with emotional eating for years and it is not an easy thing to overcome!


  8. An autobiography would be amazing. I am so glad you’re looking forward and have a plan for where you’re going (and how you’re going to get there!) I wish you the best in all things, Astrid.


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