“For every guy who seeks treatment, that’s one more hero who has come forward,” says twenty-five year old Michael Elmer, who has battled both anorexia and bulimia.
I thought Michael’s words were so powerful—and important—that I included them in the new “For Males” section of the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Life Without Ed. Also quoted in this section is yet another hero, Adam Lamparello, author of Ten-Mile Morning: My Journey Through Anorexia Nervosa. Adam is not only an incredible writer, but he is also wise beyond his years. Read his guest post below to see what I mean! While the list below certainly applies to eating disorder recovery, I noticed that his ideas apply to just about everyone. (Numbers 1 and 9 are my favorites!) Adam is working on a new book tentatively titled Freak: From Relapse to Recovery, so stay tuned for that. Thanks so much, Adam, for sharing your inspirational story.
This post is one in a Life Without Ed Birthday Blog Series celebrating both recovery and the Tenth Anniversary Edition of the book, which will be released soon.
In March, stay tuned for the audio book!
Living a Recovered Life
by Adam Lamparello
So much has changed in the last ten years. After struggling with an eating disorder for several years, the one thing that had to change finally did: I accepted that my choices, not my circumstances, would determine my destiny. I also discovered that recovering from an eating disorder, addiction, or illness isn’t the same as—and does not guarantee—happiness.
Life after recovery isn’t free of adversity, disappointment, or uncertainty. The difference is how we cope. I learned to control negative thoughts, overcome fear, and stay true to myself. Most of all, I chose to be happy—no matter what my circumstances, or what adversity I would inevitably face.
Someone recently asked me what full recovery really means. Honestly, I think it’s different for everyone. Here’s how I defined it:
1. It’s All About Your Mindset. I stopped viewing myself as a victim, making excuses, and blaming other people for my problems. Not taking responsibility for my choices kept me sick and prevented me from owning my life. I found recovery by changing my internal dialogue and developing an empowering thought process.
2. Be Honest With Yourself. Honesty is hard. No one likes to acknowledge mistakes, admit weaknesses, or struggle with uncomfortable feelings. But honesty is what allows us to grow, to learn from failure, and to know ourselves. Going through the pain is how we find joy.
3. You Can Overcome Fear. Fear gains power from negative thoughts, but only has as much power as you give it. Don’t pretend that fear or doesn’t exist. Acknowledge its presence, but don’t let fear develop into a self-limiting belief or cause you to avoid difficult situations. After all, reality isn’t nearly as catastrophic as what we imagine in our minds, and if we’re doing our best, there’s absolutely nothing to fear—not even fear itself.
4. You Have to Know Yourself. You can’t be yourself if you don’t know yourself. And you can’t cope effectively or be mindful if you’re unaware of your inner tendencies and predispositions. Knowing yourself makes you stronger.
5. Self-Validation is All That Matters. You won’t find recovery—or happiness—by seeking others’ approval, or by placing value on awards, prestige, or “things.” Don’t do what other people say you should do. Instead, use your voice, do what you want, and don’t apologize for it.
6. Guilt, Shame, and Anger Hurt No One But You. Let go of the past. Stop judging yourself, and don’t let failure define you. Everything in our life—positive and negative—happens for a reason. Guilt and shame stop us from finding those reasons and growing from our experiences.
7. We’re All The Same. In many ways, we all share the same struggles. We all doubt ourselves and feel insecure. But we all have the power to overcome adversity by coping more effectively and making different choices. You’re not different—or special—but you deserve to be happy and live an authentic life.
8. Be Wary of Labels. Don’t be so quick to attach a label or to diagnose yourself with a problem. Sometimes, it’s our thought process, not a biological condition, that causes unhappiness. Of course, while we all have issues that may require professional attention and treatment, clinical standards can be arbitrary and labels can have a negative impact on self-esteem. Seek help when you really need it, but always know that neither a label nor a number define who you are.
9. Have Fun. Listen to your heart and live with passion. Laugh. Take risks, and don’t take life—or yourself—too seriously. And be grateful for all of your experiences, be sure to appreciate the little things, and know that you are—and always will be—good enough.
10. Trust Yourself. Don’t try to find the answers to every existential question. Instead, celebrate each small step toward a full recovery, and trust that you’re in the place where you need to be right now. If you’re faithful to yourself, you’ll end up where you’re meant to be, and you’ll attract people who appreciate the real you.
Ultimately, the truth—and keys to a full recovery—are within you.
What does fully recovered mean to you? Please post your comments and questions.