Spotlight on Lasting Recovery: Alumni Profile with Allison

In sharing your stories about the recovery journey, we hope to offer inspiration, hope and support to Eating Recovery Center and partner program alumni. This month, Allison, an Eating Recovery Center alumna, reflects on the journey of lasting recovery.

In sharing your stories about the recovery journey, we hope to offer inspiration, hope and support to Eating Recovery Center and partner program alumni. This month, Allison, an Eating Recovery Center alumna, reflects on the journey of lasting recovery.

What does lasting recovery mean to you?

Lasting recovery begins with getting back everything my eating disorder took away from me: my faith, school, my sorority, my boyfriend, my friends, my personality, my happiness, but most of all hope. All of these things come with recovery and brings freedom. Freedom from something I never thought I would beat. Lasting recovery is realizing I am so much more than my eating disorder and deserve to live a life full of joy. Lasting recovery is finally surrendering and giving up my eating disorder. Surrendering is “to agree to stop fighting, hiding, and resisting, because you know that you will not win or succeed.” Lasting recovery for me most recently was enjoying my birthday for once and even eating the cake. Finally, lasting recovery is realizing I am too strong, ambitious, unique, and worthy of happiness to be trapped by my eating disorder.

What advice do you have for fellow alumni as they navigate their recovery journeys?

  • Recovery is a rollercoaster: chaotic with twists and turns you don’t account for. It’s ok to fall down as long as you get back up. No one is perfect so why should we expect recovery to be?
  • When you are having a hard day, try and remember what life was like without your eating disorder. It’s a nice reminder that there is so much more to life.
  • Accept yourself. This was one of the hardest things for me to do but has been the most helpful. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, funnier or charming, but if you accept yourself it seems to matter a whole lot less.
  • Develop a solid support team whether that is professionals, family, or friends. It will make it so much easier when you transition to different stages of your life.
  • In the beginning of recovery, I found myself saying I can’t do this but I’m going to do it anyways. It was a start, but it then led to I can do this! It is possible!
  • You are worth more than you can ever imagine to so many people. Be authentic and honest about who and how you are.  Tell people what you need…even if that is telling them you need quiet time to think.
  • This one may sound a little silly, but your hair will grow back. I know I lost a lot of hair and thought it was the end of the world. It wasn’t, and once I started feeding my body it began to grow back especially after treatment.
  • Don’t lie to your treatment team. They are just there to help and once you get everything out in the open you can work on what is bothering you. My clinician always says honesty increases trust and decreases the power of your eating disorder.
  • Write down what you are thankful for. On tough days this brings me back down to earth and allows me to see there is so much more to the world. Even in the darkest days we can find hope.
  • When you leave treatment, your work is not over!  It is just the beginning of using all of the tools you have been given on your own.  Use your support team of doctors, clinicians and dieticians to help you stay on track then ask for help when you need it!
  • Learn to laugh at yourself and not take life too seriously!
  • Treat yourself. Go get a mani/pedi, facial, or massage. You deserve it!

What is the greatest challenge you have faced since leaving treatment? How did you address this challenge?

Comparison… In the eyes of my eating disorder, I am never enough. This summer I have returned to Baylor University where my eating disorder flourished and put me in treatment not once but twice. It has been hard going back to college where someone is always dieting, skipping meals, and over exercising which causes my eating disorder to be jealous. My eating disorder is really good at comparing food amounts, calories, bodies and more. All of which are so insignificant.  In the end, I have accepted that we are all created to be perfectly imperfect.  No one person is the same, which is beautiful.

Has anything surprised you about the recovery process?

It is ok and likely that you are going to “mess up” at one point in your recovery. Being a perfectionist since I can remember, I thought messing up was the end of the world. When I had a lapse in my eating disorder, I thought I was doomed and was going to have to return to treatment when really I was able to ask for help and get back on track, which only made me stronger. Every time something hasn’t gone as planned, it has all worked out. I have learned that if I take the time to take care of myself, I am more likely to get to do what I want to do.  Life is a whole lot more fun without your eating disorder.

Do you have any inspiration quotes, saying, or affirmations you would like to share with fellow alumni?

“She believed she could, so she did” – R.S. Grey

“Always remember, you are BRAVER than you believe, STRONGER than you seem, SMARTER than you think, and twice as BEAUTIFUL as you’d ever IMAGINED.”

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

I wrote this little prayer on the inside of all my journals and on the hard days this is what kept me going.

God’s truth

Dear Allison,

You are my beautiful child who I created to be with me at every moment of the day, and to be my hands and feet on the earth. Remember that you were made perfectly by me, and I do not make mistakes. True beauty is not measured by physical appearance, but rather by your love for me and your love for others. Do not be discouraged when you fail to remember me and my truth—keep in mind that my Son died for you, and because of that, every day, every moment, is an opportunity for you to turn back to me and know that you are still loved. You are worth it. I am always here with you, my beautiful child.

allison shwartz

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