Lived experience is one of the most valuable assets to recovery.
You can read about eating disorders in as many text books as you like and on some level you will understand them. Cognitively you may get it, but unless you’ve walked in the path it’s difficult to “really get it”
When you have lived that experience, You get it on a whole other level. People in recovery “get it’ on a level that reaches them to their core.
This makes people with lived experience such important allies in a person’s recovery journey and can be crucial alongside treatment.
I will never be able to express the gratitude I feel for my therapist, I know she saved my life, literally. Therapy was huge in my starting recovery and breaking free from the ED. But the most transformative part in my own recovery has been through connecting with those who have lived it.
At all stages of my recovery lived experience has been influential and important in my own growth.
Reading blogs, listening to podcasts/vlogs and following pro-recovery accounts on social media has really assisted me in the process.
There’s a deep level of trust that develops, knowing that others who have fully recovered, or are in a strong place in recovery helps us to feel connected, validated and most importantly gives us HOPE.
I reflect on the times I listened to people like Jessica Flint, Tabitha Farrar, Mia Findley and Millie Thomas sharing their stories, their wisdom and experience and aspiring to reach many of the milestones in recovery. Believing through sheer faith in their stories that recovery IS POSSIBLE for everyone. Even in some of my darkest moments in the throes of the ED or difficult moments in recovery, trusting what those who have lived and come through the other side has felt comforting and at most motivating.
Connecting with others in recovery seemed terrifying to me when I first started. If I had have been offered group therapy or any form of treatment that meant connecting to others, I would have ran a mile. In fact, I did. I was so ashamed of my eating disorder and terrified my “sordid secret” would become common knowledge. But through listening to others, joining platforms or groups a lot of this shame began to disappear, because there was nothing in this community that was judged, hadn’t been felt, said or done before. I started to see I was NOT ALONE, that there were millions of us who have experienced eating disorders.
A common theme I began to understand was the level of shame we all suffered. The more I read stories, listened and talked the more the shame began to dissipate.
Things I felt I could never share with another living person, suddenly felt like no big deal in the recovery community. The nuances that we believe are so shameful and not to be brought out into the light of day, are everyday struggles we share and is part of non-judgemental wonderful conversations. They say shame is fuelled by secrecy, I believe this is so true.
Following other’s journeys enabled me to find my own voice. I refuse to be ashamed of something that has made me who I am and helping me to connect with my true self.
I used to say I wanted to recover to the person I was before the eating disorder. I no longer wish this, because recovery has made me someone else, someone bigger than I was ( pun intended), but the level of growth that comes from choosing to recover & surviving an eating disorder is such that I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m becoming more connected with myself with every recovery orientated decision and becoming aligned with who I want to be. I’m grateful to those who were brave enough to share their experiences, that motivated my own recovery and helped me keep faith.
People recovering from eating disorders have to do this in a world that still challenges many of the beliefs we have to unlearn and to be able to recover in this society is so hard. For some this society can be incredibly cruel and the more people who share their struggle, experience the better this will be one day, especially for those who cannot find their voice. Lived experience is becoming a much bigger part of recovery, with the ever increasing resources available, recovery coaches becoming mainstream and peer mentorships, this can only be a good thing alongside traditional recovery. These people have experienced the struggles, the up’s downs and navigated their way out and are so valuable in helping others do the same, with compassion and sensitivity that is as authentic as it can get.
I’ll share some resources that have been so imperative to my own recovery below.
- https://www.recoverywarriors.com/ From blogs, to podcasts and online community platforms such as the “Courage Club” this has been huge in my recovery. Jessica Flint is fully recovered from her eating disorder and has now founded a recovery community that has reached thousands of people in recovery. This has introduced me to some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met.
- https://www.instagram.com/lindseyhallwrites/?hl=en Lindsey Hall has herself recovered from anorexia and she shares incredible insights
- https://tabithafarrar.com/ Tabitha is a recovery coach, who has fully recovered from her eating disorder. She’s very direct in what she believes recovery is, but she has shared some amazing blogs, podcasts and now mostly posts video content on youtube. I followed her avidly when I first started recovery. She posts about things from “extreme hunger, weight gain, and neural rewiring”
- https://www.instagram.com/millietnz/?hl=en & https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/end-eating-disorders/id1534539219 End Eating disorder recovery Podcast.
- https://www.beyondbodycoach.com/ Mia Findley- is an Australia based recovery coach, who has fully recovered. She posts videos and podcasts with her experiences.
- http://maintenancephase.com/ This is a great podcast that promotes HAES, diversity and is anti-diet