“One of the hardest things was learning I was worth recovery. And I’m allowed to celebrate it, which is a great feeling.”- Demi Lovato, Stay Strong
I have seen countless documentaries and films about eating disorder recovery and read countless books on the subject; Demi Lovato’s “Stay Strong” documentary, however, is one of the most inspirational and influential that I have experienced thus far. I loved Stay Strong‘s honesty, insight, and hope regarding eating disorder recovery. What I most appreciate about Stay Strong is that it powerfully conveys the experience of being in recovery as opposed to either being stuck in an eating disorder or fully recovered.
Demi’s story demonstrates through words and music that there is real value in the journey of recovery. Her story reminded me that I need to focus less on the destination of full recovery and more on my everyday experiences, because that is where learning and growth happens.
Demi’s story is also so empowering because, in my opinion at least, it is not triggering. There is no talk of specific numbers, or pictures that were supposed to shock viewers with how sick she was, and nothing that glamorizes eating disorders (as so many stories seem to do whether it is intentional or not)… It was just real. Raw, real, and hopeful.
I won’t go into too much detail about the documentary, because I want you all to watch it! 😉 You can find it at StayStrong.MTV.com. However, I will say that my favorite scene in the documentary was Demi’s first Thanksgiving out of treatment. Demi struggled to resist eating disorder urges and felt emotionally drained afterward, but she was able to make it through the day without using behaviors. Her experience sums up a very simple, yet profound statement about eating disorder recovery: “No one said it would be easy; they said it would be worth it.” Demi’s experience at Thanksgiving also portrayed helpful coping skills. She went into the situation emotionally prepared, she stayed in touch throughout the day with a friend who is also in recovery, and she was honest with herself and her loved ones about how she was feeling.
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I also appreciated that Demi focused on how her passion for music has helped her stay in recovery. It makes complete sense that as a famous singer there would be a focus on her career, but the focus on her passion serves a deeper purpose. Her experience speaks to the fact that recovery is about so much more than the food; it is about embracing the things in life that bring you true happiness and inspire you to keep moving forward.
There is so much more I could say about how this beautiful documentary affected me, but I will leave you with this: Demi’s story taught me that you do not have to be perfect to inspire other people and make the world a better place. Sometimes I feel like I have to put on a brave face when I talk to people who struggle with eating disorders, even to the point of in-authenticity. I feel like in order to inspire people I have to portray myself as SUPER RECOVERY WARRIOR! KICKING ED’S BUTT 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK!… I find myself feeling guilty and disappointed in myself if I have to admit that I have had slip-ups. But, like I said, Demi’s story is so inspiring precisely because she acknowledges the ups and downs of recovery.
You do not have to be perfect to make a difference by telling your story. All you have to do to make the world a better place is be unique, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect you. Take care of yourself, be authentic, strive for your dreams, and everything will fall into place. As Demi says, you are worth recovery and you deserve to celebrate it.
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