Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom

Recovery is Not a Solo Act

For the longest time, I thought I was a unicorn. A myth, a legend, the impossible incarnate.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom
A self-portrait

While my friends moaned about how hungry they were, I could feel full on nothing but salad and hardboiled egg whites.

While my sisters took rest days, I could workout for hours on end every single day.

While my mom had endless phone calls to friends whenever she had a rough day, I could hold in the tears, not crying until I was alone in my bed and the lights were off.

I was the best one-man circus the world had ever seen.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom
This is how I felt most of the time during my recovery.

But one thing they don’t tell you is that it gets awfully lonely standing up on stage by yourself. Here I was, trying to juggle all the balls in the air at the same time without so much as an assistant waiting by the sidelines for when one of them inevitably dropped.

There’s nothing wrong about being an introvert. I’m a person who will gladly spend a Friday night reading a book rather than going out for drinks. I’ll proudly admit that I actually enjoy sitting at lunch by myself sometimes, if only to get my thougths together and not having to worry about making conversation.

As much as this social withdrawal makes eating disorders easier–for hiding obessive habits, for disguising the weight, for allowing thoughts of your own innate unworthiness to consume you–it makes recovery dang-near impossible.

Ultimately, YOU have to make the decision to recover. No one can do it for you. But, once you make that decision, you need to seek out others to help you along the way.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom

For so long, I thought I could recover on my own.

I didn’t need to tell my family. I didn’t need to talk to friends. What would they think if I told them about having thoughts I knew were crazy? Like how eating a cookie would make me instantly gain a thousand pounds. Like how eating both pieces of bread in my sandwich would mean too many carbs and make me unlovable, according to the online calorie calculator. Like how gaining a pound would make me both happy for succeeding in my “recovery”… and secretly sad that I was getting bigger.

Admitting my flaws to others would mean I didn’t appear perfect anymore. And then, I was certain, they wouldn’t want to be around me.

If only we could realize how untrue this is.

When you try to battle recovery yourself, you end up defending your lifestyle. Covering up your disordered behaviors is so much easier when no one else really knows they are disordered in the first place. You end up repeating the cycle, over and over again.

Beyond the necessary medical doctors you should seek if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, recovery means needing people who will truly listen to you and support your journey.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom

Going public with your problems is terrifying. It means no longer being perfect, no longer being special, no longer being a unicorn who defies all the normal rules.

It means no longer thinking, Everyone else might need to quit exercising, but I can just cut down my running time. Everyone else might need to eat XXX calories to gain weight, but I can do it with half that. Everyone else might need help, but I can do it on my own. 

Having outside support, whether friends or family or whoever, holds you accountable. Falling back into disordered habits is so much harder when you know you’ll get called on it. As humans, we crave connecting with others. We need that outside validation to keep us going.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom

That’s why I started this blog. Even though I might have my own challenges still to battle, talking them out with even an invisible audience keeps me going. I’m not perfect, but admitting that to others and reading their own stories actually helps me notice where I still need to improve. You can still be struggling and yet serve as an inspiration to others.

If you’re at a loss for where to find support, social media isn’t a replacement for real friends and family or an in-person therapy session. It does have its dangers. However, a blog or Instagram account can be a starting point in finding a community and the motivation to persevere despite your struggles.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom

Being so open about an eating disorder… or depression or addiction or anxiety or whatever weighs you down… instantly lifts you up. You find accountability, inspiration, and the support you need to recover. For real this time.

Because, when it comes down to it, we all know that you can let yourself down, but you can’t let others down.

And, really, who would want to see a one-man show when they could have the whole circus?

Those are my thoughts, but what do you think?

–> Can you recover alone?

–> What are your experiences with trying to find outside support for recovery?

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9 thoughts on “Recovery is Not a Solo Act

  1. I’m honestly not sure I would have been able to recover had it not been for outside support. Or that I would have even caught on to the fact that I had an eating disorder. I spent the longest time not thinking there was anything wrong with my eating/exercising habits, until I actually came across some blogs of girls who were in recovery and realized that what they were dealing with mirrored my own thoughts and actions exactly. No one can -make- us recover, but they can definitely help make the process a little bit easier.

    • So true. I also would have not realized the harm I was doing to myself without others’ concerned comments. I think we often need an outside persepective to cause us to become aware about the destructive habits we see as “normal,” since we become so numb to them. People can be afraid of voicing their concerns to loved ones or friends, but even the smallest comment (said in an appropriate manner, of course) can make a difference.

  2. So true-eating disorders thrive in secrecy and isolation, and surrounding yourself with people and ALLOWING THEM to support you is like dousing a bucket of water on the fire. I think professional support and support of those who understand what you are going through is essential in the beginning; as you progress, the support of people outside of the ED/Recovery community, I think, becomes more critical. The balance shifts as the focus of your life shifts from recovery to recovered.

    • Yes! Allowing and accepting help is key. And I like how you mention the difference places you can seek support throughout recovery. Having medical professionals in the beginning is crucial to regain physical health, but friends are essential for the lingering emotional challenges that come afterward.

  3. This is a such a wonderful post – so full of truth and so relevant to my current thoughts. “Admitting my flaws to others would mean I didn’t appear perfect anymore.” I lived this very lesson just this past weekend. It can be really hard, and make you feel very sad, to unveil those things that make you feel flawed, but I think it is our imperfections that can make us grow closer to one another. Much of what you said also reminded me of one one of my posts about needing outside validation (https://mylittletablespoon.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/doing-it-for-yourself/). It is tricky – we need to want to recover for ourselves, as no one can “make us recover,” and yet you are right – we need support to push us along. Thank you for all your words!

  4. This is a great post! I definitely think it’s important to find outside help, even if it’s just someone to listen. I find writing incredibly therapeutic and I always write whenever I’m going through a tough time, but I don’t always share it with anyone. I work with a lot of women who have had EDs and almost all of them think that they will be the outlier. It’s funny how we can convince ourselves that we are different.

    • Writing is such a great therapy. It helps to just get your thoughts out, but then also gives you the ability to share and connect with others. Then we realize we aren’t as alone as we think.

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