Those who are recovering from an eating disorder hear often that recovery is a process. When treatment gets tough and recovery seems just out of reach, this can serve as a helpful reminder.
When I hear the word process, though, I think of a series of specific steps that must be taken to achieve an end result. As we know, recovery from an eating disorder is anything but orderly. While there are indeed some steps that all recovering individuals must take — for instance, making peace with food, addressing underlying issues, and (in some cases) stabilizing weight — recovery, on the whole, is an individual journey.
So when we tell an eating disorder sufferer that recovery is a process, what are we actually telling them?
One way that we can think about the recovery process is through a very familiar process: grief. But in our case, it’s not the death of a person we are grieving; it is the death of our eating disorders.