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Sharing My Story

Written by Empowered Member, Ashlyn Sullivan

My recovery has been anything but linear. It has been an emotional and bumpy roller coaster with countless ups and downs. This is a common misconception for many when hearing the word “recovery”. To many, recovery is expected to be a linear process that is a one and done and unfortunately for most, that is far from the truth. I know when I first started recovery from anorexia after winter break of my senior year of high school,  I definitely did not think I would still be actively in recovery my sophomore year of college. This misconception revolving around recovery is something that has taken a long time for me to accept. I am very much a perfectionist, so when I realized that my recovery wasn’t “perfect” or going the way it was “supposed” to be, I was devastated and put more pressure on myself which just made things worse. 

The reality is, there is no one way or time stamp on recovery. This is one thing I have been learning to accept. One thing I’ve really struggled with is not holding anger towards myself and trying to not compare myself to others and their journeys. Prior to college, I spent 7 months in treatment and missed a lot of my senior year. I had worked so hard during that time to get healthy enough to go to college. I was beyond excited and so proud of everything I had overcome and worked through. I was in such a good place and was ecstatic about starting the next chapter of my life. I was ready to let go and put recovery behind me. I had believed that I was fully recovered and completely healed because I had worked so hard and gotten to what I thought was a good place. Unfortunately, this was far from the truth and within a couple months of being at college and away from home, I completely relapsed. I was barely hanging on. My stress and anxiety was over the moon and everything I had overcome, I felt I lost. I felt like a failure. I had failed not only at recovery, but at being perfect. At least, that’s what I thought…. 

Since I started treatment again about a year ago and consistently working with a recovery coach multiple times a week, I have begun to realize that I am not a failure. I had a setback, but am working to overcome it each day. Things constantly get thrown at you throughout life, but you get to decide how you handle whatever comes  your way. I have been known to always face things head on no matter how hard it gets. Recovery can be so draining, but I know that the outcome will be so worth it. I have always been known to never give up on things. Everyone who knows me knows that once I set my mind to something, I will do whatever it takes to achieve my goals. When things feel hard and choosing recovery feels impossible I try to remember my why’s and the life I am so desperately trying to get back. Refocusing on my why’s and constantly revisiting them has been a crucial part of my recovery. It allows me to get my priorities straight when that ED voice is overbearingly loud. Some of my why’s include…

  • Being able to stay at college with my friends

  • Being able to focus in class and actually understand what I’m learning

  • Spontaneous coffee and ice cream runs!

  • Being able to move my body in whatever way I want

  • Being able to live my life to the fullest with full food freedom!!!!!

Although I am still working towards some of these things, these are what keeps me going each and every day.

When things feel impossible, I love that I am able to come back to these and see all the things that I have been and will continue to fight for!

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