Complacency in recovery – are you serious?

Catherine Liberty's picture

This may seem like a strange topic, especially if you’re still in the early stages of recovery where you’re putting everything you have into making sure you remain mindful, cautious and “switched on” 24/7.

If someone would have told me at the start of my own bulimia recovery that I should be on guard for becoming overly confident or too relaxed I would have presumed they didn’t have a clue about recovery.

But now, being blessed with a lot of experience and so many recovery insights I can say without a doubt that complacency is something that can become very relevant in the later stages of recovery.

Becoming aware of complacency in recovery now could help you to avoid relapsing because of it in the future

It’s natural to want to let your guard down when recovery “get’s good.”

I remember when I was a few months into recovery, thanks to the support I'd received at Bulimia Help structured eating had actually become enjoyable, I was no longer experiencing powerful urges to binge or purge and although I occasionally thought about restricting, they were just thoughts that I knew I didn’t have to act on.

My weight was stable; I was able to appreciate myself for the first time; food was just food and nothing more and because of all of these wonderful changes I really started to feel free for the first time.

Slowly I started to become less mindful about my actions, I let my structured eating plan slip a little and I started to put less effort into maintaining my state of recovery because I thought I didn’t have to.

Just after reaching the 6 month mark in recovery I started to feel invincible

I’ve met countless people in recovery from bulimia, who just like me became overly confident around this time too.

I wish someone could have helped me to realize that 6 months into recovery was still far too early to be considering myself recovered.

Recovery can be a great a that time. You don’t have to plan as much, you can get through a lot of situations without having to strategize, I mean who wouldn’t want to rejoice in that new found freedom?

I remember telling myself “I’ve made it six full months, I must be recovered now” and I’ve seen that kind of thinking over and over again at Bulimia Help over the years.

I really do believe that when we convince ourselves we have recovered so early on it adds fuel to the “recovery is a life-long battle” debate

Of course we want to celebrate in recovery- and we should!

Feeling free for the first time is a wonderful experience and is a time that should be celebrated. When recovery starts to feel more natural and less like an ordeal it does mean that you no longer have to put as much thought or effort in, but at the same time it is vital that you don’t allow yourself to become too confident too soon.

There is a fine line between becoming comfortable and becoming complacent

It’s important to celebrate the successes and embrace the fact that recovery gets easier along the way but it is also vital that you don’t become too comfortable too soon.

Remember as a rough guide it takes you at least 6-12 months to really get the hang of recovery and sometimes a little longer than that before you feel fully recovered.

Personally it took me 15 months to fully recover to the point where I no longer had any urges, desires or thoughts EVER, but again it is different for everyone.

Of course eventually you can let your guard down

Eventually you no longer have to work at being recovered and I know that full recovery like this exists because I am living it as are so many other people!

Remember full recovery is a time where you no longer feel any bulimic urges – EVER. This is a time when you are totally free and when you are able to live without thinking about recovery, without fighting to maintain your bulimia-free life.

Points to consider...

This week I want you to remember to celebrate all of your successes and really embrace the wonderful moments when you see recovery getting easier and eating becoming more natural.

Equally I want you to understand that it can be risky to "let your guard down" too soon. Remember recovery is a gradual process from start to end.

By learning how to gradually let down our guards we’re able to see if we’re ready to move even further towards being fully recovered without leaving ourselves completely vulnerable to relapse.  

In a couple of weeks I’ll share some of my favourite strategies that helped me to eventually make that final transition between “recovering” and “being recovered.” 


Rosanna's picture
Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this Catherine! It's actually a really positive realisation, I think, to know that for all that it's going to take a while, it gets better and better and better that whole time. I don't know how many times I've been told that recovery is about learning to recognise the urges and not act on them, long-term. To hear that you don't even get urges now is fabulous! I truly can't wait and if it takes 15 months or longer... so be it!

chelsi323's picture
This was very

This was very encouraging!
Just last night I felt myself start to binge, and I allowed myself some of what I was craving, and was able to stop when I was satisfied!
Even though I feel a little guilty because I still feel like I ate a little too much, I know that it was still a major step to be able to stop myself rather than getting the "all-or-nothing" mindset and throwing recovery to the side!
I am 3 weeks b/p free today, and I am excited to reach a point where every step of my recovery isn't a calculated plan and I can just live naturally and freely!

Thanks for the post :)

melzo1's picture
Yesss Catherine I got the

Yesss Catherine I got the message, now looking forward to hearing about your strategies for the transition btw being recovering & recovered.

Thanks again,

Ayse xoxo

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Thank you so much for all the

Thank you so much for all the wonderful feedback everyone :)

Rosanna I think that is one of the most important recovery messages that I really try to share with people - recovery for life!

So many people believe recovery is something you have to work at forever, but it really doesn't have to be. I believe we can all get to a stage where we don't have to work at being recovered just like me, Ali and so many others have done.

Chelsi that's great news, what a huge victory you must be so proud of yourself. The more you practice eating those foods that make you feel uncomfortable the less guilty you will feel, keep up the amazing work lovely!

Ayse thank you so much. I hope you're still doing amazingly well in recovery. There is so much to talk about in regards to the transition between recovering and recovered but hopefully I can cover some of the main points in a couple of weeks.

Thank you so much for reading everyone!

Take Care,

Catherine x

supergirl's picture
Perfect timing. I am only 3

Perfect timing. I am only 3 months bp free but am totally in the confident and complacent zone so this reminder came at the perfect time. I do love how I feel now, having NO urges is great! BUt I do need to make sure not to restrict or skip because I am busy with something else. Like the earlier post, I will just enjoy the journey. An earlier post by you has me determined to not let my body feel deprived so that it sends strong urges again.

Your work here is so valuable


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