Authentically Living in Recovery from Bulimia

Woman in DBT treatment

Authenticity is a trait that man does not strive for until they feel they have lost it. Authentically living in recovery means living in a way that is true to one’s personality, spirit, or character.

Many individuals that have struggled with Bulimia Nervosa have spent a great deal of time living to keep their eating disorder alive instead of giving life to their true, unique, and authentic selves.

Let the Unknown Propel You Forward to Authentically Living in Recovery

For many recovering from bulimia, their authentic selves have long been hidden, ignored, or overruled by the voice and personality of their eating disorder. As a result, authentically living in recovery is almost unknown. Individuals in recovery report feeling as if they don’t know who they are.

After all, every decision they have made for quite a while has not revolved around what helps them to feel genuine, authentic, or true to themselves. Instead, they focused on fueling their disorder.

One study detailed that this lack of identity is a crucial aspect that maintains disordered eating. The study details that each individual has “self-schemas,” or, knowledge about themselves related to others and the world around them [1].

Often, individuals that struggle with eating disorders have many negative, interrelated self-schemas that make them vulnerable to viewing physical appearance and body image as crucial to their sense of self [1].

Reasons Banner used with relationship in eating disorder recovery


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As such, they fear their identity is worthless or inadequate if they cannot maintain this. In recovery, individuals fight this narrow sense of identity and may look at themselves in the mirror and not know who they are.

Many run from this feeling, retreating back into maladaptive coping skills, old habits, and unhealthy relationships to fight the process of getting to know themselves and not authentically living in recovery.

Don’t let this challenge pull you back toward your disorder. Instead, embrace it as a wonderful, free, and exciting new beginning.

Date Yourself

One of the most significant parts of recovery is getting to know what an authentic you looks like.

What do you like? What makes you happy? What future are you hoping for? Who do you want surrounding you? What are your values? How would you like to move forward? What holds you back?

All of these are essential questions that will help you develop more empowering and healthy self-schemas.

Girl looking into mirror authentically living in recovery

Approach this new challenge of getting to know yourself as if it is a new relationship, letting go of nerves and jitters and embracing the incredible adventure of getting to know someone new.

The fun part of this adventure is opening yourself up to new people, experiences, ways of moving your body, cultures, food, belief systems, etc.

Incorporate excursions and activities into your daily life that help you learn what brings you authentic joy and fulfillment.

Maintain Relationships that Foster Honesty

Now that you are working to know the incredible person you are separate from your disorder, you deserve to be surrounded by those that unconditionally love you for that.

Examine the people that surround you and ask yourself if you feel comfortable to be yourself, to honestly express your thoughts and feelings with them, and to let them know who you are and what makes you, you.

You have spent too much time molding yourself to make your eating disorder happy and do not have to spend more doing the same for people who are unsupportive or unaccepting.

Surround yourself with those that love the real you, for your heart, your strength, your resilience, your talents, and your unique and irreplaceable spark.


[1] Stein, K. F., Corte, C. (2007). Identity impairment and the eating disorders: content and organization of the self-concept in women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. European Eating Disorders Review, 15: 58-69.

About Our Sponsor

Reasons BannerReasons Eating Disorder Center is an innovative program founded on the belief that healing is a fundamental aspect of eating disorder treatment. We believe that eating disorders are rooted in and driven by anxiety and profound disruptions to the sufferers’ sense of self. We offer our patients hope rooted in the belief that they are capable of living an authentic life of meaning and connectedness. Our goal is to create a culture that nurtures the integration of body and mind through the daily practice and continual reinforcing of the balancing ideas of Doing and Being.

About the Author:

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.

Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published September 16, 2019, on
Reviewed & Approved on September 16, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.