Recovery transforms lives in the most spectacular ways

Catherine Liberty's picture

This week I really want to talk to you about the power of transformation that comes with recovery from eating disorders

I’m sure we’d all agree that in essence recovery from bulimia means removing all urges, desires and needs to binge and purge; finding peace with food and ourselves; becoming stronger and more empowered individuals and not having to resort to bulimic behaviours just to make it through the day. 

Those things go without saying.

But my own experience of recovery has taught me that it really doesn’t end there - in many ways recovery is the gift that keeps on giving.

Recovery can help you to transform your life in the most spectacular ways!

Recovery encourages revival of spontaneity, development of strength, awakening of independence and the emergence of pride. It helps you to achieve things you would have never believed were possible.  

Just last week I experienced one of those eye-opening moments where the true impact of my bulimia recovery really hit home.  

In addition to my coaching role here at Bulimia Help and the other eating disorder advocacy work that I take part in, each Thursday I work as a volunteer support worker for an agency here in Liverpool that provides care to the elderly in their own homes. 

Following my shift the area supervisor asked whether I would be interested in taking on some further responsibilities, including training new support workers, helping with funding campaigns and even assisting with interviewing new staff – I immediately jumped at the chance. 

I found myself feeling excited, valued, appreciated and then it hit me -

I never would have been able to do this pre-recovery!

I wouldn’t have had the time, the courage, the self-belief, the energy. I wouldn’t have even found myself in that situation in the first place because I would have been too afraid of failure and far too busy clearing my days to ensure there was enough time to binge and purge. 

It really made me think about how my new, bulimia-free life is so drastically different to my life before recovery. 

A typical week in my life before recovery would involve...

  • Avoiding social contact at all costs, inventing multiple excuses as to why I couldn’t see my friends and generally hiding away from the rest of the world.
  • Continually letting my talents go to waste. Even though I’d attained a degree in Psychology and a postgraduate qualification in social and community studies while I was bulimic, I never utilized that knowledge and those skills because I didn’t believe I was capable. 
  • Being too afraid to try new things, finding it impossible to make even the most simple of decisions and never having any free time at all. 
  • Feelings of overwhelming depression, anxiety, pessimism and unhappiness. 
  • Waking up with feelings of dread, feeling totally unenthused for life.  
  • Feeling that vulnerability was my downfall, not knowing how to set boundaries and doing anything I could to make others happy without thinking about my own needs. 

In deep contrast to this…

A typical week in my life after recovery now involves...

  • A lot of social interaction, no more excuses and definitely no more hiding away from the world. 
  • Utilizing my education and personal experience to the best of my ability in order to make a difference in the lives of others still fighting to beat bulimia.  Working for the website that literally saved my life, taking part in additional eating disorder advocacy work, volunteering my time to a charity each week and even writing for a new online magazine (it was my childhood dream to be a writer!). 
  • Making important decisions not only for myself but also on behalf of others; trying new things all of the time and having a lot of free time despite my busy schedule.  
  • Feelings of inspiration, strength, compassion and a true zest for life on a daily basis.
  • Waking up feeling excited, energized and happy. Knowing I can achieve anything, believing wholeheartedly that the possibilities in this life are endless. 
  • Standing up for what I believe in, embracing my vulnerability and understanding how to set healthy boundaries, rather than continually striving to please others.

To someone who’s never experienced life with an eating disorder those transformations may not seem that major, but to me they are huge and wonderful! 

It’s time to start dreaming big!

Often when we find ourselves dreaming about our new bulimia-free lives we actually sell ourselves short, because even the most outrageous and exaggerated daydream often will not compare to the realities of how wonderful it is to live life without bulimia. 

Reflecting back on my own ideas of recovery I can see how completely oblivious I was to the possibilities of exceptional change, but now they are undeniable. 

I want you to know right now that I am not an exception, I am not just lucky, or a one off bulimia treatment success. People all over the world are recovering and achieving things they never dreamed would be possible.  

A task to help with motivation and inspiration

So today why not take some inspiration from this post and create your own “typical week” scenarios. 

STEP 1. For a few minutes write about the things that you experience, are held back from, miss out on or are afraid of while struggling with bulimia under the heading “A typical week in my life before recovery would involve”. Even if you’re still struggling try to write/think of this in the past tense. 

STEP 2. Now take a few minutes to visualize your own recovery. Imagine that you have already fully recovered. How are things different? Do you have more time now? Do you work differently? How have you made peace with the past? Perhaps you even see yourself helping others to recover? Or maybe you see yourself never spending one more second thinking about bulimia again. 

STEP 3. Really visualize that dream life, even if it seems impossible, and write yourself a second letter. This time focusing on all the wonderful transformations that recovery has brought to your life under the heading “A typical week in my life after recovery now involves”. Even if you’re not recovered yet try to write this in the present tense (just like we do with positive affirmations).

This can be a very powerful exercise

Having this real image of how your life is bulimia-free can give you the extra strength and determination needed during those more challenging days. Look back at your "life after recovery" list daily for inspiration.

Final thought...

If you’d like to share your own “a week in my life” before and afters and you’re a member of Bulimia Help then I’d love to read about them. Why not post them in the comments section below, or even write your own blog post on the topic?

I hope that this week’s article will inspire you to keep on fighting, keep on believing that anything is possible. 



Letgoandletgod's picture
I spent about 15 minutes

I spent about 15 minutes doing this; it really did help me want to work on my recovery moreso. Maybe I can implement this idea into a daily practice...

I didn't recognize or didn't want to face some of my fears of living up to my full potential, though my full potential sounds fantastic, a life second-to-none, without judgment and fully loving. It's insane how much bulimia not only holds me back in life, but also makes my fears seem worse than they really are.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Sherie, That's great news,

Hi Sherie,

That's great news, I'm really happy it helped you to focus and want to work on your recovery even more.

I used a lot of visualization techniques like this in recovery and I found they really did help to keep me focused and dedicated.

I completely agree with bulimia making our fears seem worse than they actually are, we convince ourselves that bulimia makes us strong, helps us to deal with negative situations, helps us to face the world, when in reality it never does.

I can't wait for you to experience that bulimia-free live, full of potential, success and happiness. It's there waiting for you and reminding yourself every day really might help you to stay motivated :)

take care

Catherine x

Sarahb's picture
Thank you for this Article

Thank you for this Article Catherine
I related to the comment you made about letting your talents go to waste. I feel useless and unemployable. At the moment I need to get a job to help with the family finances. For the last five years I have been a stay at home mom - which has meant the freedom to purge and binge all day. Now I need to get a job but I feel I am good for nothing, I have no purpose and and nobody will employ me. I do not have the desire, courage or belief in myself to take the action needed to get or make a job . This feeling has always been there since I started bulimia at school 20+ years ago. I have qualifications but have always felt useless. I question and have no self belief. I thought it was me and my bulimic mind believed I was bulimic because I was useless, untalented with no future and had no purpose in life. Now I think maybe I felt useless, untalented and with no future because of my bulimic mind. In my future without bulimia, I have a purpose and passion, I am in or have created a job which fullfills my purpose and passion, I no longer doubt myself , get anxious about doing things and am no longer afraid to put myself into the world.

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