Link to a video I made on this topic: https://youtu.be/07j4fIwjRkg
I’ve been told off in the past for being honest about the fact I recovered fully without any professional help. I’ve been told this can make people feel like they too need to try and recover without professional help. So I will preface this by reminding you that recovery isn’t a competition. You’re not “cheating” if you receive help. Recovery is not a game or an exam. This is your life. Every second that ticks by you won’t get back, so with that in mind, the best path to recovery is the one that gets you there faster. Do whatever the fuck works for you. Seriously. That’s all that matters. I have no judgement one way or the other over whether it is better to recover with professional help and/or family/friends help or neither. I don’t give a rat’s arse how you do it, I just want you to recover. Do what works.
So now we have that out the way, it is a reality that most people in recovery don’t have the option of professional help. If you live in America, money is a barrier to any sort of healthcare, physical or mental. Wherever you are in the world, there is a deficit of adequate and effective professional help. This is a problem. If you live in an area without a good, experienced eating disorder expect, you are shit out of luck. So, even if I were to believe that recovery with professional help is better than recovery without (which I don’t, necessarily, because it is highly subjective) it is a reality for many of you that you will have to do recovery without. With that in mind, I don’t think the message “you need help in order to recover,” is particularly helpful for a lot of people.
I do tend to believe that in the majority of cases, non-professional support (friends, family) is beneficial. I think it is true for most aspects of life that a friendly face and someone to confide in/problem solve with, is helpful. However, there are no blanket statements to make here either. For many people in recovery, family is not an option for support. Some of us wind up with no friends left either. Some of us just like to do things on our own because that is the way we operate.
I talk to a heck of a lot of people in recovery who are alone. I talk to many people who are surrounded by family and people who love them, yet, when it comes to their eating disorder, they feel alone. I talk to people whose family want to help but are so clueless, or fat-phobic, they just seem to make things worse. I talk to far too many people who have tried for years to use professional support and have yet to find someone who really understands eating disorders.
I talk to a lot of people who, for a variety of reasons, are going to be doing recovery alone. And yeah, of course, they are never really alone because they have the internet, and there are plenty of recovery communities on the internet doing tons of good and making people feel connected and heard. But … you can have all the people on internet right in front of you on your laptop and still feel pretty fucking alone. For some of us, virtual friends don’t lift that feeling of alone-ness enough.
Recovery alone and not by choice is a reality for many. If that is your reality, I guess that all I really want to say to you is that you can do this. It may not be your first choice to do it this way. That’s okay. You can do it anyway. I’ve known many people who didn’t want to do recovery alone do it alone and get fully recovered. It’s okay to be pissed off about it. You can sulk all you want so long as you are eating while you are sulking. But know that you can and you will get to the other side and that it will be so very worth it. You are the only person you need in order to do recovery. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want the help of others, but it does mean that if help is not available to you — for whatever reason — you can still recover.
Recovery Alone as a Choice
There will be lots of people who are doing recovery alone who would rather not be doing it alone. They want help, but they can’t find it. Then there are some of us, who choose to do recovery alone. Yes, choose. That was me. I was surrounded by family members who would have loved to have help should I have asked. I didn’t want their help. I regret not involving my parents. But that isn’t because I think doing so would have been a better path for me. It is because I think that would have been a better path for them. Or because they would have enjoyed being allowed to help me.
You see, my recovery had to be done my way. And my way of doing things is often alone. Doing stuff I shouldn’t really do alone is a big part of my nature. I’m always being told “don’t do that on your own,” and I do it anyway. I’ll take a horse galloping on my tod. I’ve performed minor medical procedures on myself, on my own. I’ve founded businesses on my own. I’ve gone skiing some bloody mad runs on my own. This morning, I climbed on a ladder to get up onto a 30ft barn roof to fix a light, on my own. Ironically, if I plan to do something stupid with a high probability that I will hurt myself, I am much more likely to do it on my own just to avoid people telling me not to do it. That’s my nature — I’m a prat.
It is also a trend with me, that the more important something is to me, the quieter I will be about it. Major tests and exams; I’ll keep them to myself. If I’m hatching a business plan, I keep it to my chest until I’m about to launch. I don’t want opinions and I don’t want advice. I put my head down and get on with things without involving other people. I like it that way.
My recovery was important, and it was mine, and I did it the way I do a lot of things in my life: alone. I should be able to be honest about what worked for me because I believe that my readers are intelligent enough to know themselves and know what will work for them. I want people to be allowed to choose. I think that some people feel stuck because they are told they have to involve others and yet it is not working for them. I want to present another option that I believe is absolutely just as healthy and more viable for some of us. (Not all.) It’s up to you to know yourself and work out whether any of this blog applies to you or not. Sure, you could use this as an excuse not to seek the help that you know you need, but if you do, that’s on you. Don’t pretend you don’t know better because I know you do.
I can look back and say that I did my recovery my way, and that was they way I had to do it. Does that mean you should do recovery alone? No. You have to do recovery your way. It is not for me to tell you what your way is because I only have the experience of being me. And if you are the type of person who would find someone to come and hold the bottom of a 30ft ladder for you before you climb up, then that is what you should do. Just because I am heading for a Darwin award doesn’t mean you have to.
Who knows why I choose to do hard stuff alone? Who cares. I’m mostly tremendously proud of myself for making the decision to recover at all. That, by the way, is 99% of the battle.
That really is it. Once you have made the decision to recover. You can and you will. It won’t be perfect and it won’t always be fun and you will likely cry a lot regardless of how much or how little help you have.
I feel that all too often we disable people by telling them that in order to recover they need help. I’ll repeat: the only thing you need to recover is yourself and food. Other people can help and support but they can’t do it for you.
Most important part: It is your responsibility to make your recovery work. If you choose to do recovery alone it has to work. You will know within a very short space of time whether or not it is working. If it isn’t working, you have to change it. If it isn’t working, you have to ask for help. You do you so long as doing you is working. If it isn’t, you have to make a different choice. Recovery is so much more important than your pride. Every second you are not recovered is a second of your life you won’t get back. So chop chop … get on with it.
I don’t care how you get there. Just get there.