They don’t tell you just how difficult recovery will be. I was always told things like “You’ll be able to reach your goals,” “once you start, everything will become clearer,” “just eat, that’s all there is to it” and even “weight restoration will solve these thoughts.” But to be brutally honest, they couldn’t be further from the reality. They fail to tell you that the self-loathing you have festered for so many years will not simply disappear by eating regularly (or by swapping maladaptive coping strategies for more helpful ones) or that most days you wont even care about the goals you were aiming for. Mental illness is debilitating and giving people the idea that there is a simple fix is degrading for those who have had to endure it.
Mental illness doesn’t magically disappear because the sufferer decides that they want to recover. Years of routine (both physical and mental) can not be unlearnt and forgotten within a day, regardless of how much we may want it to. It still leaves me in disbelief that a specialist can be unaware that disorders can manifest in people of different age/sex/background/size and the way to treat a mental illness can be different because of that. Regardless of how many people try to ‘fit you in a box’ because of what disorders you are/aren’t diagnosed with, it is important to remember that you have a voice. Recovery wont be clear cut and it may not be easy to navigate. You may have to try so many different avenues that you think you’re going in circles -sometimes you may actually find yourself going in circles. There will probably even be times where you think you are back to where you started, but that is normal! It isn’t shameful if you find yourself lost or even lacking any sort of motivation to follow that original path, most people find themselves in the same place. You are allowed to drop everything, get muddled, lose sight of the reason you started this and even just chuck a tantrum (I threw a few, not going to lie). The most important thing is that when you’re ready, you try again.
Recovery is the process of continually choosing the options that make your future possible. It’s the choice that makes the thoughts in your head run rampant and your body shake or maybe it is knowing that you’ve pushed yourself enough and you need a rest. It is a mix of anxiety, loneliness, anger and tiredness, but most importantly it beings to include love and little flickers of happiness (even if that involves laughing at yourself because you were crying over spilled milk). It wont happen instantly -I don’t see the point in lying- but sometimes you will look back and go “well shit, there’s no way I could’ve done that 6 months ago”. Those little moments are the things that make the big picture fall into place.
Just remember that is okay to ask for help (in fact, it is advised) and that your struggles as well as you, are valid. You don’t have to fight this alone.