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Posted Nov 05 2009 12:00am



This past weekend my husband and I participated in the NEDA Walk in East Stroudsburg. It was great seeing a community pull together to increase awareness around the challenge of eating disorders. In speaking with a NEDA representative, we got into a discussion about recovering versus recovered. What signifies the end of the journey? Is there an end?

This is not just a point for intellectual discussion. An awareness of stages in recovery can be vitally important. For example, if someone is early in recovery, it may limit their ability to assist others. They may need to put their energy into helping themselves. Someone early in recovery may need to gather more supports. They may need to avoid triggers or consciously use more coping skills until the recovery starts to become more second nature. Until the recovery feels more real that the eating disorder.

Yet a challenge with recovering versus recovered is that sometimes individuals will put off goals until after they’ve recovered. Yes, there may need to be some limitations and accommodations made for plans and goals if you are in the recovering stage. But if everything is put off until after you’ve recovered that can make the recovery itself almost impossible. Pursuing goals can help provide energy for your recovery. Learning new skills can focus your attention on a healthy task rather than letting ED control your focus. Discovering new talents can boost your excitement for how life can look when the eating disorder is no longer a large focus.

With writing (or other activities) sometimes people say “when I have more time, I’ll do that”. When you look at it that way, though, something will always crowd the writing or other task out. You have to schedule in the time to pursue what you love and then gradually it will become natural to do that task. That activity will have a place in your life and it will add energy and enjoyment (if the activity is something that you truly love).

Some might say—well recovery is the task that I have to carve out time for. But recovery really is getting into and enjoying your healthy life. It is supported when you carve out time to pursue activities that you love. It is the eating disorder behavior that can crowd these tasks out and overtake your life. It is these activities and goals that you have to schedule in now until they become second nature. Crafting the life that you want to lead can’t wait for recovery to happen, it is part of recovery. It is the here and now and not the far off future.


·         Journal about what you love or what you’ve always wanted to do. Even if it is a strange niggling thought that you have dismissed as silly—write it down. See how you feel when you look at that idea. If it buoys you up and gives a thrill of excitement, then consider that maybe this needs to be something to pursue Schedule it in to be part of your life. Everyone’s desires may differ. I love to write—others hate it. The idea of gardening does not buoy me up, but my neighbor loves it. You need to discover what you love. Make lists and see what you keep circling back to.

·         Journal about past times that you felt happy and alive and excited. What was going on? What were you doing? What was it about that situation that felt so good? By understanding it, you can work to help create it again.

·         Journal about stories that you’ve read or tidbits of info you’ve heard. What intrigued you? Did someone sailing across the ocean make you sit up and take notice? Do you need to learn how to sail? Did a picture of a quilt or talk of an old-fashioned quilting bee make you feel at peace? Then start learning how to quilt. Get a group of like minded friends together. Maybe you need to form a drumming circle or a book group. To discover what you love, you may need to try things that you’ll find actually don’t work for you. That’s okay. Start now by journaling to discover which path to try. Or journal a list and work through it so that you always have a new activity to schedule in. Use it to crowd your eating disorder out.

Live now while you’re recovering. You don’t have to wait until you’ve recovered.

Recovered comes from crafting a new life.

So discover your life and learn about yourself and go Write On!


Martha Peaslee Levine, MD


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