Eating Disorders Editor's Picks

Finding Your Why in Eating Disorder Recovery

In eating disorder recovery, there has to be hope. You have to believe things can improve and you can find yourself again without your eating disorder controlling you.

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I often think about what moved me forward in my recovery from anorexia. What was it that kept me moving in the right direction when being stagnant or even slipping back would have been easier?

Initially, I sought help because I knew something was wrong with me.

I knew I was sick and was hurting the people I loved. I knew things couldn’t continue as they were going and I was scared.

I thought a lot about what my family would tell my five year old niece if something happened to me.

When I started recovery, I knew things needed to change or I would lose the people I loved or perhaps they would lose me.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get better or what better even meant. I just knew that I was miserable and tired and cold. I felt very alone and at times hopeless.

As I worked through my recovery, I found a new focus: I wanted to become a mother and I knew I had to be healthier both mentally and physically to achieve that goal.


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I started to have hope that things could get better. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.”

In eating disorder recovery, there has to be hope.

You have to believe that things can improve and that you can find yourself again without your eating disorder controlling you.

I wish I could say that once I found my purpose, recovery was quick and painless. That was definitely not the case.

Despite having a goal in mind, it still took me years to dig myself out of the hole of my eating disorder. But through it all, I had hope. I had no idea how I was going to get well, but I believed that I could. Even on the days when I wanted to throw in the towel and just go back to the comfort of my eating disorder, I somehow managed to move forward.

I definitely had hard days and slip-ups that sent me a bit backwards, but I always managed to dust myself off and keep going.

I know people say that you can’t change for others. I agree that your sole motivation to get better or make a change cannot be for someone else. I do believe, however, that if wanting to get well for someone else moves you forward, it is not a bad thing.

When I began my recovery process, I couldn’t want to get better for myself. I had to look at the people I loved and think of how my illness was impacting them. I was too sick to see that I was slowly killing myself and that I needed to make changes to prevent that from happening.

As time went on, I found an internal motivation that moved me in my recovery.

My mind was more nourished and able to see more clearly. I could see what my eating disorder had done to me and I wanted to make it stop.

While external motivation can’t be our only reason to recovery, it’s okay to seek inspiration from others especially in the beginning.

If I only thought of myself, I never would have sought help in the first place. As my mind cleared and my body healed, I was then able to really figure out my goals and my reason for recovery. I realized that I wanted to stop thinking about food and exercise and my body all day long. I wanted to be more social and flexible. I wanted to be able to live my life without my ED voice dictating my choices. I wanted to be a mom.

Nine years into this journey I now think about why I want to stay recovered.

I want to have more time and brain space to think about things other than my body and my food. I want to be able to relax and to be spontaneous. I want my children to grow up seeing a mom who can have fun and who isn’t always trying to control everything.

I want to accept and respect my body without trying to change it. I just want to be free.

Your reasons for recovery can and will change. As you learn how it feels to be well again, you will discover your why. You will find out what pushes you forward. Keep setting new goals and considering what’s important to you.

Remember these reasons when you’re feeling stuck or wondering if recovery is worth it.

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Article Photo by Anatol Lem on Unsplash

Amy is a full time mom and former teacher living in Massachusetts. She enjoys reading, running and playing with her kids. She strives to use her story of recovery to help others suffering with eating disorders.

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