What Is Recovery? 

I started trying to answer this question more than two years ago.  I came up with some phrases and patched together a short paragraph. As time passed, I revisited the writing and added some things that I learned along the way. Recently, I was asked to share my thoughts on recovery during a memorial event at Walden Behavioral Care.

This is what I said:

Recovery from an eating disorder can be simply defined as moving toward a healthy mind and a healthy body. But it is so much more than that.

Recovery is a remarkable journey of hard work, personal growth, reflection, insight, faith, and hope. It is made up of hundreds of little steps that, over time, create a life worth living.

The work of recovery is to discover and find space for your character, personality, spirit, passions, values, beliefs, past, present, future, strengths, weaknesses and all that makes you who you truly are.

Recovery means participating in life instead of watching it go by, seeking out knowledge and wisdom, knowing when to ask for support and when to help yourself, learning to face your fears and to take risks, being kind and gentle to yourself and nurturing the parts of you that strive for wellness.

Recovery means THRIVING instead of just SURVIVING.

Recovery is an individual quest, but it is not done alone. It is important to have people who know you deeply and use that knowledge to encourage, advise, and push you to be a better person every day, despite the struggles. These supports can be family members, close friends, people in the eating disorders community as well as clinicians.

I believe we all need at least one person in our lives to hold the hope for us when we cannot hold it for ourselves and to celebrate us when we take steps toward recovery.

As difficult as it is, I am grateful to be able to engage in the recovery process.

As I read the passage I wrote, I tried to give the best presentation I could. Speak loudly and clearly. Slow down, even if you think you are talking too slow. Look at your audience. Be in the moment. Feel what you are saying. So, that’s what I did. Or at least that is what I hope I did. Whatever it was, it worked.

For me, something magical happened at that event. I became a recovery speaker. I shared my lived experiences in the form of my definition of recovery. Being able to talk about my journey with others has been a goal of mine since the first time I saw a recovered person speak about eight years ago, but it was something I truly did not think would happen.

Today, I stood in front of many people and shared something important – important to me and important to others. I just hope that what I said resonated with those who heard it.

By: A Former Walden Patient

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