As many of you may know, I’ve shared my story many times on Eating Disorder Hope. I am someone who proves recovery from an eating disorder is possible.
I battled anorexia myself as a teenager, and that is where a lot of my insights and thoughts on this topic come from as well as things I have learned over the last decade hearing incredible stories of survivors as well as the knowledge of this disease from clinicians.
I started to struggle with anorexia when I was about 12-years old, and my parents got me into treatment around the age of 15 or 16.
I got into an excellent outpatient treatment facility in the Metro Detroit area for two good, solid years before I was at a place where my doctors were like “alright, you’re set and ready to move on.” With this, I gained helpful tools to put in my tool belt to face the world again.
However, the reason we are discussing long-term care today is that you can struggle with, and overcome, something in your teens and still have aspects of it that come up again later in life.
Different seasons bring different challenges, and, so, it is necessary to ask yourself, “how do I build a foundation in treatment so that I can have recovery that lasts?” This leads us to another question that I was confronted with as soon as I went to my first National Eating Disorders Association conference at the age of 18.
I had gone as a volunteer because I wanted to soak up as much information in the ED community as I could and, as someone who had just recently gotten out of outpatient treatment, the same question kept popping into my mind.
“Is full recovery from an eating disorder possible?”
It is astounding that this is still a question within the eating disorder community.
Whether it is anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or a combination of many different issues, there are still many differing opinions from people with much more clinical and academic experience than myself.
Many people’s opinions differ on to what extent is someone “completely” free from an eating disorder for the rest of their life?
There is also this tension between what the more hopeful message is for those in the midst of their struggle.
Is it more hopeful, when you’re in the depths of the struggle, despair, and darkness, to hear, “yes, there will be a day when this is completely gone, when you are free from every thought, you are completely normal again, there is lasting freedom, etc.?”
Or, is it more helpful to tell someone who is in the struggle and the grind of therapy, who is working toward the goal of having zero eating disorder thoughts but feels that goal is constantly so far away, that they will never fully achieve that freedom and lessen that pressure?
I have heard opinions on both sides of the spectrum.
All I can tell you is that, for me, it was most hopeful to hear that I could be truly free from this disease. I heard this from mentors of mine and saw how they modeled that to me.
What it meant to me was not that they didn’t have bad days, not that they never felt anxious or depressed or inadequate, not that there weren’t temptations, but that the emotions and the voice inside saying, “no, if I go back to that I will die.”
The strength to go through it and get to my healthy-self was much more powerful than any of those thoughts or moments.
I believe that recovery is completely, 100%, possible, and I know this because I experience it in my daily life. That is, I know the freedom that I experience.
I can still feel, in my gut and the pit of my stomach, what it felt like to be completely at the end of myself and in my darkest moment. But, I also feel, in my gut, that it is not compatible or possible to live in that space.
I still have bad days, and challenging seasons, I know that going back to my eating disorder behaviors is not the answer. The “Healthy Voice,” thank God, is stronger than the eating disorder voice.
Unfortunately, because of a lack of access to care, stigma, and a whole host of other reasons, only a 3rd of the people struggling with anorexia actually receive treatment and go on to recover.
But, I also believe that the more we talk about, legislate, and advocate for this cause, that number will increase.
I think the fact that the possibility of recovery is still such a lingering question points to the fact that this is such an individual issue.
Everyone has a very different experience when it comes to how recovery from an eating disorder will affect them and their lives.
Crucial Aspects for Long-Lasting Recovery from Anorexia: Tips and Guidance for Long-Term Anorexia Nervosa Recovery – Part 2
Challenges in Anorexia Recovery and Overcoming Them: Tips and Guidance for Long-Term Anorexia Nervosa Recovery – Part 3
Stay Connected in Anorexia Recovery: Tips and Guidance for Long-Term Anorexia Nervosa Recovery – Part 4
Virtual Presentation by Kirsten Haglund in the Dec. 7, 2017 Eating Disorder Hope Inaugural Online Conference: “Virtual Hope for Eating Disorder Recovery”
About the Author: Kirsten Haglund is an international speaker, mental health advocate, and digital media strategist. Through her media and communications company, En Pointe, she works with a diverse group of clients in both the profit and non-profit sectors increasing social engagement and scalability, social listening, communications training, spokesperson work increasing brand awareness.
Kirsten serves as a media spokesperson, speaker, and Director of Global Business Development and Digital Media for Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. She is also Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center and is Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation.
She also does political analysis across television news networks and radio, including on MSNBC, CNN International, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Channel. Her Op-Eds on politics, culture and non-profit advocacy have appeared in the New York Daily News, Forbes.com, Huff Post and in industry journals.
She served as Miss America 2008 and Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Kirsten graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Political Science and is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland.
About the Transcript Editor: Margot Rittenhouse 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 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 on November 7, 2018.
Reviewed & Approved on November 7, 2018 by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com