Tag Archives: fully recovered

Celebrating Three Years Since Choosing Recovery

3 years 5

TRIGGER WARNING – this post shows images of my body during my eating disorder, as well as images of my recovered body*. Please do not look at this article if these are images that are likely to trigger you.

In the last three years (and a bit), I have come further than I ever thought I would. Just over three years ago I was a suicidal, starved, insane mess of a human being. I was throwing glasses across the room in anger because my partner at the time had turned around my horrible self-reminders not to eat that I had plastered around the house, and had instead written lovely messages on the backs on them. Just over three years ago I was screaming at him because he put a dash of milk in the scrambled eggs. I had intense urges to eat food off the ground because my body was so hungry. Each day was all about filling out the time until I was “allowed” my next measly portion of food. My life revolved around the number on the scales. Everything I did was for that number to decrease. I walked around with my brain feeling foggy, my body weak, and put it through intense and draining physical exercise anyway. I was a walking corpse. I wasn’t alive. I was merely existing.

It took me a couple of months of uhmming and aahing to really choose recovery. I was uncertain. I was scared. I was in denial about having to gain weight in order to be healthy and happy. But eventually I got there. Gradually I solidified my decision, and I although I had ups and downs (understatement of the year), I never really looked back. I had many, many, many moments where I said to myself “I’m done! I’m going to relapse!” but I would cry it out and keep on going anyway.


A year into my recovery, I made the photo above. If you know me and my blog, you’ve probably seen it before (and I posted it on another post on this website too). The hollow, unfocused, red-ringed eyes had been replaced by bright, shiny ones. My grey, matte skin now glowed. My smile didn’t seem stretched, and the happiness showed upon my whole face, rather than looking tired and empty. I love the comparisons. It always shocks me, and it always reminds me how terrible I looked then and how healthy I look now. It always reminds me of how far I have come.

3 years 3

My hair is shiny and soft now, not falling out, and not desert dry. After two or so years in recovery, it suddenly grew really fast and is now really long and I love it. I now engage in the world: my senses aren’t dulled due to starvation, and I take in what is around me. I am fully present when conversing with friends and thoughts of my body don’t cross my mind when I am with them, when before I was utterly distracted by how my body looked in that moment. I feel strong, rather than feeling like I am going to pass out at any moment. I feel like I am really in the world, rather than miserable and alone in my own harrowing personal nightmare.
dani and sarah
During recovery, my personality that had been smothered by my eating disorder emerged, stronger than before. During the first two years of my two and a half years in recovery, I grew more than I had ever done in my life. I established who I was and what was important to me. I developed hobbies and interests that I had never had before, whilst regaining my love of old ones. With help from feminism and the body positivity movement, I felt empowered and impassioned. I found my drive and my purpose, and I established my worth as a person inside my own head. In simple words, I now feel solid. I feel strong.

3 years 2

My eating disorder starved me. I lost myself, not just my weight. My relationship disintegrated. I couldn’t concentrate around my friends (although, unlike a lot of others with eating disorders, I managed to maintain my friendships). I didn’t do anything without thinking about losing weight. Recovery gave me back my sanity, and my ability to function within the world and within relationships. I regained weight, and I regained myself. Unfortunately, my relationship came to an end six months into recovery, but I now know I will be able to have a healthy, happy relationships without my eating disorder destroying me, and in turn, destroying my relationship.

3 years 4

For me, sleep was first an escape from the pain of the life I was living when my eating disorder was active, but after a while, as my body became more and more starved, it became impossible to sleep. I would be thinking over and over about my “meal plan” for the next day, and would find it really difficult to fall asleep. When I did, it was food that I dreamed of – that, or gaining weight – and I would wake up in fits of anxiety, or stroking my hipbones; a bizarre habit that occurred in the worst period of my eating disorder. One of my favourite things about being healthy is being able to sleep properly. Resting is so important to me now, and such a relief.

3 years 13

Giving up exercise was something that I really struggled with during recovery, and was something that I relapsed with two or three times. Once I’d started eating and my survival instincts took over, restriction wasn’t something I wanted to engage in again (even though my eating disorder kicked and screamed against that thought), but exercise was something I could do without having to feel hungry all of the time but could still burn calories and feel “healthy”. Even though my weight didn’t change whether I exercised or not, I still had the severe compulsion to work out because I felt so anxious and guilty if I did not. But even though I didn’t have to deal with being hungry all the time, exercise made me so utterly exhausted that I could not even sit up in bed with my laptop on some days. I had to lie down instead. Eventually, I was able to cease exercise until I was healthy enough both mentally and physically to be able to do what I now like to call “recreational activity”. I walk a fine line in choosing to be active in remission, but I have my “red”, “amber”, and “green” types of exercise so I know where I am with it, and I’m constantly evaluating how I feel and how much I’m doing. I see the activity I do as enjoyment rather than doing it for my body – the health benefits are secondary for me. Having fun comes first and foremost in the choice to do physical activity, and I think it should be that way for everyone.

bralet 3

The picture above is me today. I am now over 8 months into remission (full recovery). I feel strong and healthy and confident. I have bad and good days with my body, but I more or less accept it for what it is now. Today was a good day, and I feel powerful as a person. I’m about to have a delicious dinner with my family, on holiday, with a view of the sea. This evening I am going to a bar to have cocktails with my brother. And it won’t even matter to me how many calories any of what I have consumed today has.

I am enjoying being me.
3 years 6

*The reason I have included photographs of myself when I was ill is because for me, it’s an amazing transformation. Recovery should be equally about mental and physical recovery – you can’t have one without the other – and I wanted to show both, because for me, my experience with weight gain was a huge part of my recovery. I can only show my physical recovery through photographs, and my mental recovery through expressing it in writing. This article is not about the process but about the comparison as to how I was then to how I am now. I also wanted to show that it is possible to gain a significant amount of weight and look very different and be able to accept that. My body and the changes it made throughout recovery were hugely significant to me, so to be able to show that comparison and say that I made those changes to my body and I got through all the self-loathing, guilt, and anxiety, and found my way to accepting my body as how it looks now is incredibly important to my journey. Some people may not agree with my choice to include photographs, but that is why there is a trigger warning. That was my body, and this was my journey, and I want to express it in the way that is significant to me. 

What Does Being Fully Recovered From An Eating Disorder Look Like?


It’s a big question, but often people in recovery ask it: what will it mean to be fully recovered?

Before you read my own experiences of being in remission from a restrictive eating disorder, you might want to read my post: Am I Still Disordered? which can help give you some idea as to if you still have things to work on in your recovery.

Being fully recovered will mean different things to different people, but this post is about what it means to me and how I think it should be for people when they are in remission from their eating disorders.

For me, remission means that I eat what I want, when I want, and I don’t worry about that making me gain weight – and it doesn’t. I maintain my weight by following my hunger cues and cravings. I trust my body and I eat what I want to eat. I never make excuses not to eat something that I want to eat, and I don’t ever choose food based on calories or macros.

For me, remission means that I accept my body as it is. I don’t love it, but I don’t loathe it any more or have the intense desire to change it. I have accepted it as it is, and always try to see it in a positive light. Some days I am unable to feel positively about my body, but I accept that I will have bad days and then put my mind and thoughts to better use.

For me, remission means that I can enjoy being active, but I know it won’t have any effect on my weight or shape, and my reasons for doing it are not linked to my body. I do not engage in exercise that I do not enjoy because that would be disordered. I engage with physical activity that I find genuinely enjoyable and any health benefits come secondary to me having fun. For me, exercise has got to be something I look forward to doing, enjoy participating in, and feel good about after. At no point must I feel like I am forcing myself to do it. This means that for me I tend to do physical activity when other people are involved. I don’t see exercise as exercise – I see the activities I do that are physical as just another of my hobbies.

For me, remission means that I do not resort to eating disorder habits when angry, stressed, or upset. It means treating myself, relaxing, talking to other people, and doing things that I enjoy to make myself feel better.

For me, remission means that I don’t second guess myself when it comes to food. I don’t think about becoming “healthier”. Food isn’t so important to me any more – except for the fact that I now really enjoy it instead of feeling anxious and guilty! I am now myself and not my eating disorder. I am a woman who is interested in feminism, psychology, writing, reading, social politics, blogging, watching movies ad TV series, seeing friends, art, baking, swimming, badminton, and helping others in their journey towards recovery. I have energy and I put that energy towards my passions. I am now focussed on the things I enjoy and the things that are important to me, and my eating disorder does not play a part in my life any more.

For me, remission means that I am now able to do whatever I want to do, without being limited by anxiety towards food. I eat lunch at the pub with my friends, and go for evening drinks with them. I can go out to restaurants and end up eating a bit too much (as in, can’t stand up for half an hour because you are so full because you just had to have a dessert because it looked too good not to get it) and not think anything of it. I can go out for coffee and cake and sandwiches and picnics and eat whatever my mum has cooked for dinner without worrying about what is in it. I can lie in bed all day and not feel lazy. I can go for a stroll and not worry that I’m walking too slowly, because my reason for walking is not burning calories any more – it’s because I am enjoying the countryside or getting from A to B, or taking a walk with my brother.

My body is now not particularly important to me, in so far as it doesn’t take up much of my head space. I am eternally grateful to my body for keeping me alive, and for healing me when I decided to work with it rather than against it. I am thankful that I am strong, and healthy, and I am thankful that I am able to be me again – the real me that I am supposed to be, rather than someone taken over by an eating disorder. I do not body check, and I am not distracted by how my body looks. I live life, and rarely think about how my body looks like doing it.

There are always traps that you can fall into when you are in remission. Remission does not mean that your eating disorder is gone entirely. Occasionally, you may come across something that triggers the little ED voice to pipe up. In remission, I have found that I don’t have that many triggers any more, but there are some that still remain. When the ED voice pipes up, I tell it in a very bored manner to shut up and go away, and I never act on it. When it gets ignored, it slinks back into hiding in a dusty corner somewhere in my mind. Usually, I do the exact opposite of what it is telling me to do, just to show it how much it is not going to affect me. It generally does a vanishing act then.

In remission, my eating disorder has no impact on what I do in my life, and how I do it. I am now a functioning, healthy, energy-balanced woman, living out her life in relative peace from the eating disorder’s voice. It has no place in the life that I have made for myself by fighting the eating disorder and winning. I now do things freely. I enjoy my hobbies, I work hard at my passions, and I have a full time job doing something that is extremely important to me. I have healthy relationships, eat well, and take care of myself. The life that I now have is full of me being me, and that’s what remission is all about.