Today I celebrate four years recovered, four years free from my demons, four years of living life without my eating disorder. To celebrate my recovery anniversary, I decided to write a letter to myself who was starting on her recovery journey, and had no idea what these past four years would hold.
Today you learned that what you were most afraid of, was actually what ended up saving you. That’s why April 4th will always mark your recovery anniversary. As you embark on this journey, here are four things I want you to know.
1. Listen to your treatment team: You have the best team that money can buy, so put your pride aside and listen to them. Be truthful with them, if you aren’t being honest with them, they can’t help you. Some of the things they’ll want you to do may not make sense at the time, but do it anyway. One day it will all make sense.
2. Plans change, and then they change some more: I know you worked all your life to be in the fashion industry. I remember the last time you left New York City you were certain you would be back a few months later, finding an apartment and starting your glamourous career in fashion. But you’ll soon learn that recovery changes you, it changes your hopes, your dreams, and your passions. The girl that wanted nothing more than to spend her life in little black dresses working fashion weeks, will one day find herself back in school, studying — not fashion, but the very things that held her captive for so many years, with the hope of one day being able to take the hand of those struggling, and lead them to freedom.
3. You’ll still stumble: Wait – you thought life was going to be rainbows and butterflies from now on? Well, you’re wrong. You’ll still have hard days, and to be completely honest you’ll still have days that you want to throw in the towel and give up. Anxiety and depression don’t disappear just because you have recovered. But through your struggle, you’ve been armed with coping skills, with a fantastic support system, and you have overcome an eating disorder; which is the hardest thing you will ever have to do. Here is one thing I will promise you, the worst day in recovery, is infinitely better than the best day spent in your eating disorder.
4. Recovery is possible: I know that four years ago when you started on the path to freedom, you honestly were not even sure if recovery was possible. You wanted a life without your eating disorder, but would it be worth it? Was full freedom possible? Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. Remember how you hated speech class in college? Remember how you vowed you would never, ever, speak in public? Well, in a few years, you will have overcome that fear of public speaking, all because you have found full recovery, and want to share that hope with the world. For the last six years your eating disorder has been your deepest, darkest secret, the roadblock in your life that brought the most shame. But one day, you’ll end up sharing your story with thousands of people. Why? Why would you share the story that you kept under lock and key for so many years? Well, because people did it for you. You held onto those stories of hope for dear life. So now that you’ve experienced what recovery feels like, you want to be that story of hope for someone else.
Cheers to Four Years,
Amy Sullivan is currently in graduate school for clinical mental health counseling, serves as the Southern Smash Coordinator for The Alliance and runs her initiative JOY’d. She is also a dog mom to the worst behaved chihuahua in the world and Auntie Amy to the most adorable little girl and baby boy. You can follow Amy’s recovery journey here: https://www.instagram.com/joyoveryourdestination/