The Center for Eating Disorders Blog

“What if I hate being recovered?”…and other fears that get in the way of eating disorder recovery.

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing. ~anonymous

Fear is a powerful emotion.   At it’s best, fear can serve to alert and protect us from legitimate danger.  At it’s worst, fear is debilitating and it can prevent us from taking any action at all, especially in the direction of our goals.  When individuals with eating disorders (EDs) are faced with the possibility of  recovery,  fear can quickly become a primary motivation to maintain the status quo of symptoms and the illness.  Often the fears are so strong and so many, that there’s a feeling of being paralyzed in a place of chaos and discontent.

To want to recover but to simultaneously be afraid of recovery is a common sentiment.   Many people fear the physical changes of recovery…what will my body look like if I recover?… How will it change?… Can I tolerate the physical discomfort? And while these are often the fears most verbally expressed, many of the most paralyzing fears occupy more significant arenas… Who am I without the ED?… What will happen to my relationships if I recover?… What if I can’t recover? When author and recovery advocate, Johanna Kandel visited The Center for Eating Disorders she touched on the topic of fear in her talk and found the answers to these questions on her own journey to recovery…

“What happens if I do this thing called recovery and it’s not worth it?…What if I hate being recovered?” The work of recovery is hard – that’s no secret – but when it comes down to it, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has recovered from an ED and wishes they hadn’t.  Its much easier to find people who wish they had sought help earlier and yearn to make up for time they spent in the grips of the ED.

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” ~ Marilyn Ferguson

It can be hard to push through the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of what recovery will look like, but you can’t get past a fear you don’t acknowledge.  Tune into your fears, become aware of what they are, and then you can begin to address them one-by-one.   Talk about them out loud with a friend or loved one.  Write them down in a journal or share them anonymously on our discussion board.  Find a support group where you can listen to other people process similar fears about recovery from an ED.  Most importantly, don’t let fear keep you from becoming the best and most authentic version of yourself.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ~Marianne Williamson

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This was the fourth of several recovery blogs inspired by the February 2011 presentation by Johanna Kandel at The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt. Follow CED on  Facebook to stay tuned as we continue to post additional recovery-focused blogs and video clips.  Johanna shares more about her own recovery journey in her highly influential book, Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder,  and continues to support others through her role as the Executive Director of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, a non-profit organization based in Florida. You can learn more about Johanna and her incredible book in these previous blogs as well:

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