Everyone’s recovery journey looks different. Recovery may take some individuals longer or shorter and involve various combinations of treatment providers, treatment modalities and sources of motivation. Different people may rely more or less on specific support people and utilize different and diverse coping skills. Aside from just being different, no one’s recovery will be perfect. That’s a good thing. The ups and downs are necessary opportunities for growth and learning during the healing process. In the midst of that, it can be hard to imagine recovery until you see that others have been where you are and have come out stronger and more fulfilled on the other side.
Over the years many individuals have come here to speak about how, why and with what tools they’ve established their recovery from various eating disorders. In 2010 speaker Jenni Schaefer shared what recovery means to her and why she kept pushing through what she calls the “mediocre stages of recovery” to reach a state of being “Recovered.”. In 2011 recovery advocate Johanna Kandel also visited to provide insight on her past fears about recovery like “what if I can’t recover?” and “what if I hate being recovered?” She also addressed the challenge of envisioning yourself without the eating disorder and why it’s never too late to find hope and begin the recovery process.
Most recently we hosted author, scientist and recovery advocate, Carrie Arnold for a talk entitled Hope Through Science. Carrie’s presentation was an honest depiction of her own challenges and triumphs in recovery. She also shared about her exploration of eating disorders through the lens of a scientist, joking with the crowd that she may be the only one to “read PubMed [journal articles] like its sort of a contact sport.” During her talk, Carrie provided a glimpse at some of this science and talked about how it impacted her understanding of the illness while also working to propel her forward in recovery.
Hope Through Science attendees responded to Carrie’s down-to-earth, science-minded and very realistic view of her own healing process. Her discussion about the science and biology behind eating disorders also goes a long way in helping to break through much of the stigma that surrounds eating disorders so that people begin to understand that they are not to blame for their suffering, but they can be responsible for, and capable of, taking the steps to recover. Lessening this stigma and misunderstanding about what causes eating disorders is also helpful for friends and family who may be struggling to support a loved one in the recovery process.
“Loved her personal story and clarification of what an eating disorder is; definitely provided more of an idea for my family.” ~ Event Attendee
“It was interesting to hear information about how science can affect the development and progression of an eating disorder and how knowing the ‘science behind an eating disorder’ could potentially help to unlock a successful recovery process.” ~ Event attendee
As noted above, everyone has different strengths to share and different lessons they learn throughout recovery. Carrie’s distinctive position as both a recovered individual and a science writer, allows her to add a unique perspective to the host of hopeful stories out there. If your journey to recovery is similar to Carrie’s, and the insight into the biology of eating disorders informs and empowers you personally, we highly reccommend picking up a copy of her most recent book: Decoding Anorexia: How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders. Carrie Arnold can also be found blogging about eating disorders, science and recovery over at Ed Bites.
Regardless of which path you take to get there, recovery can often feel like an uphill battle, and its not uncommon for individuals to feel hopeless at various points along the way. That being said, it becomes very important for individuals and their families to be exposed to the many different stories of healing and recovery that do exist. In order to believe that recovery is possible, sometimes you have to see it and hear it. This is one of many reasons why we at the Center for Eating Disorders find it important to offer recovery-focused events for the community and our patients. These events provide a platform for recovered individuals to share their stories and their strength while also reminding us all that the process of recovery looks different for everyone.
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