Saturday, January 16, 2021

Full Recovery from Eating Disorders is Possible

courtesy of Jenni Schaefer

Yes it is. I know a LOT of people who are FULLY RECOVERED from an eating disorder. How do we know they are fully recovered?  That is the trick question, it looks different for each person but there are common themes.

Here are three of the FULLY RECOVERED people I know:

Arielle Bair wrote about it back in February of this year, see it in my blog posts here:  Her summary is this: – “Because my life doesn’t revolve around food, exercise, feelings of hunger, my own image in the mirror, the way my clothes fit, what people say to me regarding appearance or success/failure.”

Carolyn Costin, who runs eating disorders treatment centers in California and is soon opening more in NY is fully recovered. I interviewed her for my book, Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders, buy the book and you can read her story.

Kathleen MacDonald who worked for the Eating Disorders Coalition for years and now works for Kantor and Kantor helping families fight insurance company denials is fully recovered and wrote about how she got there.  This summer Kathleen posted this on Facebook and generously said any of us could share it anytime. It’s long (but short for Kathleen), but she has a lot of important tips to share on HOW she got to FULLY RECOVERED.

“So how did you turn things around?” is one of the most common questions I get about my recovery-process. I wish there was an easy/short answer…but there isn’t. (don’t worry –this won’t be one of my lonnnnnnnnnnnngggggg-winded status to detail the answer) ~ There were several key components to my final recovery process that led to me becoming recovered…here are a few:

a. I got serious about nutrition and I stopped making me the “exception” to needing to eat
b. I got serious about gaining body fat
c. I learned to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable and I didn’t fall back into the disease every time my body image felt like hell or my guts distended/I felt pregnant
d. I got serious about the fact that every purge could be my last
e. I got serious about the fact that it wasn’t safe to exercise (I ended up taking nearly 2 years off from exercise –which was really hard to do) when I was under-nourished and under-hydrated
f. I realized that I needed to ‘over-nourish’ my body in an effort to replenish and repair all the damage done (even if my bloodwork was ‘normal’)
g. I kept Kitty Westin and Ron & Sally Crist George in my heart/prayers ever day
h. I put God in the center of my recovery-process (along with nutrition)
i. I did not listen to the doctors who told me that I had to give up gluten and dairy b/c I had “intolerances” — of COURSE I had intolerances to those foods…I had intolerance to most foods b/c my body was so screwed up from all the years of ‘dieting’
j. “suicide is not an option” became my mantra — no matter what, suicide is never the answer
k. I disconnected myself from unhealthy relationships
l. Recovering became my number one focus –above school, fun, relationships, etc… First Job = recovering
m. I dared to dream that RECOVERED existed and I sought after it with all my heart (it exists, trust me!)
n. I put the emotional stuff on hold until my brain was better healed – (and guess what –after my brain was healed and I was thinking clearly for the first time in 16 years, I realized that the emotional stuff that had caused me so much pain and trauma…it wasn’t as bad as my ED brain had convinced me…and I was able to heal from it vs. sink into deep despair)
o. I got rid of life-expectations that I had for myself (ie: I must have my Ph.D. by the time I’m 30)…and I just focused on recovering…and I trusted that Ph.D programs would still be available when I was recovered ;-)
p. I stopped trying to help others and I learned to 100% focus on me
q. Gretz, the Super Setter –enough said.
r. I learned to forgive myself
s. I ate thru the pain
t. I stopped purging
u. I stopped believing that I was ugly
v. I stopped believing that my body is less-than-beautiful when I am healthy
w. I stopped thinking that cellulite is ugly
x. I got rid of my scale
y. I healed my body image issues thru nutrition, ‘sitting with it’, and thru learning to see myself and everyone else thru the eyes of God –which means that I see every single human being as beautiful.
z. I never gave up on the enigmatic power of Hope.

So, my point is that if you or your loved one is in recovery and someone says, “You’ll live with this your whole life and always have to be fighting it.” You can say, “You know what, I’m not accepting that. I have heard of fully recovered people and that is what I’m going for. I need that hope and will hold onto that.”


ps. I’d love to hear YOUR story of fully recovered, we need these to give people hope.

A note from WATRD Editor, Robyn Hussa: Take a look at our fabulous recovery videos at NORMAL’s YouTube Channel.  You can add your story to the many who have the courage to Speak Out About ED!!


5 Responses to “Full Recovery from Eating Disorders is Possible”
  1. misti says:

    Great blog, Becky. We need more encouraging voices about being “recovered.”

    It is possible.

  2. Jenifer Knighton says:

    For all who read this post, I first want to say thank you! My name is Jenifer, I am a 27 year old single mother of 2 beautiful daughters. When I was 16 I got pregnant,but I also became Bulimic. I was terribly sick, I call it morning sickness that never went away. It was a ten year battle that I didnt even know what I was fighting against. It was horrible, I felt lonely ashamed and lost hope, I came to a point in my life that I wanted to end it. I always asked myself what was wrong with me, why did I have to go through the misery of suffering from an ED? Reality is, it can happen to anyone! I started researching on Mia years back, but with the costly treatment centers, I didnt know where to go. $500-$2,000 a day, thats crazy, many don’t even make that much money in a month! And Insurance? I didnt have any,plus trying to get them to pay for treatment, is like pulling teeth from a baby. I was lost, I was on my death bed so I call it, I was either going to find away or I was going to die! My body was on the verge of shutting down, and I was scared. The hardest desicion I made was to come clean with myself. I knew that I had a problem and I couldnt help myself alone. Going back, always telling myself “tommorrow I will be ok” or “just one more time” yep that lasted over 10 years. I was miserable, I woke up in the morning ready to binge, every little problem, anxiety or excitement I would go on a binge, and then make myself feel guilty and purge. Bulimia had taken over my life and happiness. In July of this year I came to a breaking point, I decided that it was over!I remember it like it was yesterday. I was on a trip to Dallas, and I started thinking, asking myself, Where am I going? What am I doing? WHY? Is this the way im going to die? I called a very special friend and cried my heart out to her. We talked and I told her I was bulimic. I came to a reality that not everyone can understand be ause they havent been there, but they can support you as a person. I tell you that was the bestestttt desicion I had ever made in my life. I joined a 90 day challenge, my goal was to be B/P free for 90days to start. B/P up to 15 times a day, and just quit, yes it was a challenge. I started getting more involved and telling everyone, I didnt care either they were going to love and support me or they were going to leave my life, which was totally acceptable. My focus was on recovery. In the first couple weeks, weeeeww it was tough on my body, like trying to train a baby to eat again. My body felt incredible though, I was able to eat,I had more energy and the emptiness I had felt for so many years was going away. everthing I ate and did was journaled. The triggers, my body withdraws, it wass all a process. I started to read a book “Ask and It Is Given,” one of the most amazing books in the world!I confronted a lot of things that had hurt me in the past, although I coluldnt take any of it back it gave me a lot of closure in my life. I realized that life is about being happy, its about challenging yourself, falling and getting up, having bad moments(we all do) not bad days. The most important was Having hope! Knowing that each day that passed I would be another dsy to happiness. I started talking more with people that had been there or that could just support me. I had to let a lot of relationships go and thats ok. I get a call every 2 weeks from NEDA, just to check on me. It feels great, people actually do care, there is help, there is hope! Never give up! To hear someone tell me that I inspire them is the most greatest feeling in the world. I am proud to say, Im a survivor!We can all do this!!! Love to all

    • Becky Henry says:

      Wow, Jenifer that is an amazing story! You are a living, breathing, walking example of recovery! Congratulations! I’m so glad you reached out for help and so glad to hear NEDA was there to support you! Even without treatment it is possible. Keep it up and keep us posted on the miracles that show up!
      Becky Henry


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  1. […] came across this article by Becky Henry last week and just the title alone has been an encouragement to me! FULL RECOVERY […]

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