The thing I have realised with recovery is that people can help you and support you, but only you can make the decision to be okay. I probably sat through about a year and a half of counselling, but didn’t truly take on what we were saying in the appointments because deep down I was still clinging to my eating disorder as a form of identity. I knew that I didn’t want to continue living with it, but equally I couldn’t quite let it go. Because I hadn’t 100% put myself in the mindset for healing, I was stuck in limbo of not being quite as ill as I used to be, but equally not free from an eating disorder either...
Once we have got to the point where we can recognise that we have a mental illness, we have to put ourselves fully into the mindset of healing. Once that has happened, it is up to us to use the support that is out there. We have to contact the therapists. We have to eat meals even if our mind doesn’t want to. We have to get out of bed every day and face life even if we don’t want to. We have to say YES to healing every day until it isn’t a question anymore. Other people can help you, and it’s a blessing to have a support network around you, but at the end of the day it’s up to you. You need to choose to heal.
One of the activities I had to do in therapy was to write out two mindmaps: the first one was my life in two years time still with an eating disorder, and the second one was in two years time without it. In the first mindmap, my life in two years time was the same as it was during the time of writing, just worse. The routine of the eating disorder wouldn’t have changed, and therefore my life would be the same and probably deteriorating. The second mindmap seemed like a fantasy life, but I realised that it was one that was completely possible. I realised that I was the only person holding me back from being the woman in the second mindmap.
When you visualise the life you want to live, the vision probably doesn’t have mental illness involved. This is your motivation for recovery. You have to keep the vision in your head and keep at the forefront of your mind why you want to recover. Realise that you can no longer justify committing your life to self destruction, to weight, to food, to obsession, to mental health, whatever it may be. As scared as you are to recover, because maybe your illness has been your identity for so long, you have to realise that you cannot continue to dedicate yourself to living in your mental health problems anymore. You deserve to heal and set yourself free. You deserve a much more fulfilling and happier life than the one you might be struggling with. We were put on this planet with the purpose of simply living a joyful life and we must embrace every element of that purpose.
Start this week. Empower yourself. Say yes to healing.
Written by Emily Pulletz
Founder of The World is On Your Side Blog & Workshops
Emily Estes lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her Goldendoodle pup, Miss Adley Mae. Recovery from her own struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression has led Emily to create community and resources to empower others on the journey. Emily owns Sage Nutrition, LLC where she serves as a Registered Dietitian. Her work revolves around her motto that "food is meant to nourish our bodies, not nurture us."