Eating Disorders and 'Recovery'​

Eating Disorders and 'Recovery'


There is no universally accepted definition of what ‘recovery’ is. It is one of those terms and concepts that is open to interpretation and can mean different things, to different people, at different times. Recovery means different things to each of us. However, in basic terms it means ‘getting better’ and living and learning to live and cope with everyday life without an eating disorder.

Over the years, I have hosted various support group meetings and creative arts and crafts classes (for those experiencing eating disorders/disordered eating), both looking at 'recovery'. During a previous support group session a few years ago, we talked about what 'recovery' and 'getting better' means to us. What is 'recovery' and what does this mean for us?

During this particular support group meeting, we also had a creative/art therapy-based session. We had lots of art materials and pictures to make our own posters and collages representing ‘What Is Recovery’? What does our future without an eating disorder look like?

Such representations may act as a motivation to make changes and take small steps towards change and 'getting better' and seeing all the other things we can have in life that we may be missing out on because of eating and food difficulties and exercise dependence.

We followed our art-therapy session with some brainstorming and a discussion about what recovery means to us. We noted what the group brainstormed and have included some of their answers to the question, ‘what is recovery?

Do you recognise any of these? What does recovery mean to you? Why not try making your own picture or poster? This was actually one of our busiest sessions, and everyone really enjoyed it and had fun. It also helped some members talk to other members they had not spoken to individually before and whilst doing the task, members chatted amongst themselves. So, while there was a serious element to this session, it was also very relaxed, lots of fun, very social and helped some members challenge their own social anxiety barriers. Give it a go – make your own poster – it’s fun!

Recovery is....
  • Admitting you have a problem Being ok
  • Being ‘ok’
  • Not worrying about numbers on the scale
  • More confidence
  • Enjoy eating with other people
  • Adapting to change
  • Liking/accepting yourself
  • Trusting yourself
  • Being able to express yourself in a healthy way
  • Not being invisible
  • Being able to grab your dreams
  • Get your ‘sparkle’ back
  • Developing meaningful relationships
  • Good/balanced nutrition
  • Accepting you can be good enough, not perfect
  • At peace with yourself
  • Not thinking about food all the time
  • Improved concentration
  • More mentally/emotionally stable
  • Being able to relax
  • Seeing 'failure' as an opportunity/learning
  • Being good to your body
  • Realising there are other important things in life
  • Physically healthier
  • Being able to do things you missed because of eating disorder
  • Able to tackle other health issues
  • Being able to sleep better
  • Feeling connected with other people
  • Not being restricted
  • Thinking about/looking after other problems
  • Not feeling guilty
  • Deal with problems in a ‘healthy’ way
  • Taking responsibility
  • Being able to ask for help/support and knowing/feeling it is ok to do so

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Copyright Alexandra O’Brien 2012, 2019. No reproduction without permission. All rights reserved.



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