Continuing with my recent theme on resting & recovery, I now want to address what I like to call the “recovery limbo”. That in-between phase where you’re better than you were – but still not quite recovered. Where you still get negative thoughts, but no longer act on them (as much). It’s a tough stage to be in that I’ve not seen discussed much in the media – hence this post.
What is recovery?
Firstly, I guess this post needs to address what recovery actually is. Here, I’m mainly referring to eating disorders and exercise addiction, but I’m sure it applies to many other issues. To be honest with you, it’s really hard to define recovery or determine when someone is recovered. Since no one else is inside your head, only you as an individual can determine if you’re fully recovered (in my opinion). Recovery is a process, and I’d say there are varying degrees of recovery – but to me “full” recovery is when you’re no longer plagued by disordered thoughts, nor do you act upon them when they occur. It’s being able to rationalise them and not succumb to them. Having the ability to choose what you do, rather than being ruled by compulsive & damaging thoughts.
For a long time, I thought that “full” recovery was impossible. I was discharged from CAMHS (child & adolescent mental health services) back in 2015 (I think!). Thereby “officially” recovered. My weight was healthy & I no longer had disordered eating or exercise patterns. HOWEVER – disordered thoughts still plagued me. Hence why, for the past 5 years, I believed that “full” recovery was unattainable.
Right now, though, I can honestly say that I am fully recovered. That full recovery IS achievable and you can achieve it too. Why? Because since starting lockdown, I’ve become the happiest & most positive I’ve ever been (despite Covid-19). I am, mentally speaking, the strongest and best I’ve been in my life. It probably sounds cringey but I just feel so uplifted and free – and I don’t want to go back to how I lived before.
The recovery limbo
Before reaching this point, I lived in a recovery limbo on-and-off for the best part of 5 years. And I can tell you right now it was a shit place to be. You’re not medically “ill” or deemed at risk to yourself. You can push against those disordered thoughts and, for the most part, not act upon them. And yet you are still plagued by them. It’s, quite frankly, exhausting. Pretending you’re ok when on the inside you’ve still got a demonic voice urging you to restrict or exercise more. I think that’s why for so long I went without my periods. Because I knew deep down that I should stop sport and prioritise re-establishing them – but the disordered voice told me I would be worthless if I didn’t exercise.
A couple of weeks ago I decided enough was enough and stopped sport. No running, working out, cycling etc. A full break from it. I did this because I was finally in the headspace where I could actually put myself before sport and say “no” to the compulsive exerciser inside me. In doing so, I felt like I had finally liberated myself from the demons & I’m hoping I’ll never let them back in. Occasionally they have come knocking but each time I’ve just been able to flip them off and be my healthy, happy self. Getting my periods back – for good – is the final piece of the puzzle. And I can’t wait to get to know and work with my body & its new functions/ features rather than push against them.
In the future – as and when I get my periods & return to sport – I hope to carry this newfound joy forward. I also hope to maintain my new “chilled out” attitude to food, exercise and general life. This feeling of liberation is incredible and is honestly so worth the struggle. I only wish I’d made this decision earlier and been able to feel this way for longer! So if you’re living in this recovery limbo, I challenge you to just do it. To stop sport if you’re compulsively exercising. To say no to the voices in your head advocating restriction. And to finally let yourself become YOU. It’s empowering, liberating and inspiring. I’m going to use the age-old cliché now: allow yourself to thrive rather than simply survive.
I’ve just discovered this app that is about to launch that is aimed at helping women sync their training to their cycles. If you’re interested in signing up for pre-launch then click here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post & it’s helped clarify things for you if you are struggling. As always, I appreciate your support and if you have any questions etc feel free to DM me on Instagram.