Recovery A-Z

alphabet-canvasMy friend Kathleen MacDonald shared this on Facebook earlier today, and she graciously gave me permission to share it on my blog. I hope you enjoy.

‎”So how did you turn things around?” is one of the most common questions I get about my recovery-process. I wish there was an easy/short answer…but there isn’t. (don’t worry –this won’t be one of my lonnnnnnnnnnnngggggg-winded status to detail the answer) ~ There were several key components to my final recovery process that led to me becoming recovered…here are a few:

a. I got serious about nutrition and I stopped making me the “exception” to needing to eat
b. I got serious about gaining body fat
c. I learned to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable and I didn’t fall back into the disease every time my body image felt like hell or my guts distended/I felt pregnant
d. I got serious about the fact that every purge could be my last
e. I got serious about the fact that it wasn’t safe to exercise (I ended up taking nearly 2 years off from exercise –which was really hard to do) when I was under-nourished and under-hydrated
f. I realized that I needed to ‘over-nourish’ my body in an effort to replenish and repair all the damage done (even if my bloodwork was ‘normal’)
g. I kept Kitty Westin and Ron & Sally Crist George in my heart/prayers ever day 
h. I put God in the center of my recovery-process (along with nutrition)
i. I did not listen to the doctors who told me that I had to give up gluten and dairy b/c I had “intolerances” — of COURSE I had intolerances to those foods…I had intolerance to most foods b/c my body was so screwed up from all the years of ‘dieting’
j. “suicide is not an option” became my mantra — no matter what, suicide is never the answer
k. I disconnected myself from unhealthy relationships
l. Recovering became my number one focus –above school, fun, relationships, etc… First Job = recovering
m. I dared to dream that RECOVERED existed and I sought after it with all my heart (it exists, trust me!)
n. I put the emotional stuff on hold until my brain was better healed – (and guess what –after my brain was healed and I was thinking clearly for the first time in 16 years, I realized that the emotional stuff that had caused me so much pain and trauma…it wasn’t as bad as my ED brain had convinced me…and I was able to heal from it vs. sink into deep despair)
o. I got rid of life-expectations that I had for myself (ie: I must have my Ph.D. by the time I’m 30)…and I just focused on recovering…and I trusted that Ph.D programs would still be available when I was recovered ;-)
p. I stopped trying to help others and I learned to 100% focus on me
q. Gretz, the Super Setter –enough said.
r. I learned to forgive myself
s. I ate thru the pain
t. I stopped purging
u. I stopped believing that I was ugly
v. I stopped believing that my body is less-than-beautiful when I am healthy
w. I stopped thinking that cellulite is ugly
x. I got rid of my scale
y. I healed my body image issues thru nutrition, ‘sitting with it’, and thru learning to see myself and everyone else thru the eyes of God –which means that I see every single human being as beautiful.
z. I never gave up on the enigmatic power of Hope.

What letter resonates most with you?
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23 Responses to “Recovery A-Z”

  1. Wow, what a list! And it looks like every single item is SO important. Thanks for sharing some of the key elements in facilitating your recovery.

  2. THIS, kind of blew my regular mental thoughts out of the water. THANK YOU. I know I have a very LONG way to go in regards to this post, but it is inspiration. An in inspiration, I tend to find so much that I’d rather aim for than run from.

    Cheers to Kathleen McDonald and to you Carrie for posting this.

    Light and peace to all.

  3. What a hope-filled list this is… maybe, if I look at things one item at a time, there is hope for me, too, cause I still get really stuck on quite a few of these points. Very inspiring, I’m so glad you posted it here!

  4. One of the best things I did for my recovery was to get rid of my scale. One day I was looking at it and I became really angry, thinking about how that scaled had ruled my life and made me so miserable for so long. So I slammed it against the garbage can and tossed it in. The End.

  5. This is great. I couldn’t pick just one letter but the few that resonate the most with me are h, and y.

  6. This is awesome. I am kind of on the verge of a relpase. Using behaviors I have not used in so long. This is good motivation. Thank you

  7. Okay I started to twice type up something for you that was quite detailed… and I hit refresh twice… UGH!!! So let’s just say most of these letters really hit home for me, except the stuff about God/religion.

  8. And the suicide not being an option, weight gain and nutrition being 100% necessary, needing extra, and NOT purging were ones that EXTREMELY hit home.

  9. Cara, I’m with you about the religion stuff not necessarily hitting home, but I loved the other stuff, and I know that lots of other people find comfort in religion, so who am I to judge? :)

  10. I have to agree. I am not religious at all, but I take away from it what I need. And we all know that anything helps ;)

  11. Great thoughts! I’m really curious about ‘i’. I, too, seem to be gluten sensitive. I’ve heard that undereating can lead to sensitivities and intolerances, particularly with gluten, but haven’t heard much beyond that. Any idea what the underlying causes are, more specifically? Is tolerance built up simply by reintroducing gluten into the diet, or…?

    Re: religion and god references, I think that the secular-friendly and more inclusive version of that might be something like: seeking and engaging in activities and communities that lead to feelings of awe, purpose, support and wisdom. Of course, I realize that the writer wrote that from HER experience, but I think that everyone can have the same positive results, in recovery, and beyond, without the need for religion.

  12. J and X were my main motivations. I am still working on O.

  13. I resonated with all from a-z in my attemnpts to seek recovery from ED, and having had the honour to meet Kathleen several times, she is truly lovely and such an inspiration to me.

  14. How motivating! I do not start my treatment until the fall, but in the meantime, it helps to know that I am not alone; that others are not only going through the same thing, but they have similar thoughts.

    Letter ‘V’ really hit close to home. I know that I am underweight, but I do not think I am unhealthy. And yes, I recognise my disordered thinking, yet I still cannot get it through my head.

    Beauty = health, and health = gaining at least 15-20 pounds. Simple right? Yet so difficult…

    Thank you for sharing :)

  15. I really like your attitude towards overcoming this even though I’m suffering from binge eating disorder, it’s similar mentally though

  16. Wow, your posting here inspired me! It was just the determined, tough talking that I needed to hear.

    So many of the letters resonate with me, but what affected me the most was your use of the phrase, “I got serious about….”

    I’ve been talking the talk about wanting to fight my anorexic behaviour but I’ve been burying my head in the sand and not walking the walk.

    It’s my time to get serious about recovering from anorexia.

  17. I have been thinking about this list all month. It is inspiring and motivating…the only thing I would say bothered me though is letter ‘i’ where she ignored her food intolerances.

    I would say that for some people, ignoring those intolerances can lead to things like auto-immune disorders as the intestine becomes increasingly more inflamed and damaged. I developed allergies to wheat and dairy, and fighting the inflammation/allergic reactions from those things is not something that is conducive to recovery because it makes me not want to eat anything when I’m doubled up in pain. Choosing to ignore something like that could lead to a long term life/health crisis long after recovery has become a normal way of living.

    Everything else though…golden.

  18. Thanks for sharing this Carrie, somehow I missed this post of Kathleen’s. I was one of those people who asked her about the turning point as parents always want to know what helped people recover.

    I would say “N” was my favorite because no matter what eating disorder it is the brain needs renourishing and it’s great that she could put that stuff on the back burner while her brain healed.
    Becky Henry
    Hope Network LLC

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  20. Walden Behavioral Care - Katie FitzGerald Reply June 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    This is such an inspirational list and so hopeful for those who are in the midst of recovery! I think one of the hardest things to learn to do is “sit” with uncomfortable feelings and not revert back to old habits. One of the patients at the ED clinic I work at wrote a beautiful blog post about what recovery means to her. Check it out http://ow.ly/lMrr5 if you get the chance!

  21. I admit feeling anxious as i read down the list. I am a 53 year old woman who is just beginning this journey to healing. It’s long overdue.Healing has no age limitations.
    There’s hope. There’s a direction to go in,and all the time needed to progress along this path..one tiny bit at a time.

  22. Hi! I just wondered, that how the food intolerance thing worked with Kathleen? (“i. I did not listen to the doctors who told me that I had to give up gluten and dairy b/c I had “intolerances” — of COURSE I had intolerances to those foods…I had intolerance to most foods b/c my body was so screwed up from all the years of ‘dieting’”)

    I am recovering, but I can’t handle dairy. If I eat too much dairy (pure dairy is worst, like milk, ice cream and cheese)I get stomach aches, bloating, gas and get to run to the bathroom, yay! But this started after ed, so there is nothing profoundly wrong with me. Small amounts aren’t that bad, but I eat little dairy on multiple days, I get bloating and hives.

    I know this post is old, but I was hoping Kathleen (or anyone with experience!) could tell me about their situation. Any tips about this?:)

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