Sometimes I'm Afraid of Complete ED Recovery

October 6, 2022 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Confession: sometimes, I'm afraid of complete eating disorder (ED) recovery. What does this mean exactly? It's hard to articulate, but there is a small (albeit influential and persistent) voice in the back of my head that warns me not to lose the ED behaviors I relied on for so long. As irrational as this might sound, I feel a sense of comfort and reassurance in knowing I can re-access the eating disorder anytime I need it.

After all, it was my secret weapon—a source of identity, an outlet of control, an area I excelled in, an ability that made me feel special and unique. As I type all this out, I am aware none of those beliefs are actually true. But even with that self-awareness, I still can't deny what lives inside of me: sometimes, I'm afraid of complete ED recovery.      

Here's What Scares Me About Complete ED Recovery Sometimes

I haven't acted on those ED temptations and behaviors in at least four years, but sometimes I fantasize about dipping my toes into the metaphorical waters again. I wonder if I'm still capable of the extreme level of physical and mental discipline (or self-abuse, to be honest) an eating disorder requires. I suspect that's where the fear comes from—if I heal entirely, will I abandon a part of myself who felt exceptional, strong, relentless, and powerful?

If I step away from the behaviors that inflated this feeling of power, does it mean I'm weak? What if a circumstance arises that becomes too much to handle without the ED crutch to lean on? Do I have it in me to cut permanent ties with an illness that was once my religion? The answer is: yes, of course I do. Continuously, I prove those fears and insecurities wrong. I have enough life experience to know I can thrive in the absence of an eating disorder. I realize how much I eat, weigh, or exercise is not the measurement of my worth. I understand there's no reason to be miserable when healing is possible and attainable. 

However, this doesn't change the harsh reality that sometimes I'm afraid of complete ED recovery. I miss the rush of dopamine from thinking I could exert superhuman control over my own body. I crave the satisfaction of running for hours on an empty stomach. The illness was like an addictive high—a potentially fatal one, but so enticing nonetheless. I will not let the eating disorder lure me back into its clutches, though. I can spot these lies it wants me to believe, and while I acknowledge the temptation, I also reject the impulse to give in. I'm afraid of complete ED recovery, but I'll never stop re-committing myself to it.

Complete ED Recovery Feels Scary Sometimes—And That's Alright

This is not one of those articles where I sign off with a clear, practical solution or a series of useful action steps. The truth is, I don't have much insight on how to overcome a fear of complete ED recovery once and for all. At this moment, I just need to share the confession because, as one of my former therapists often told me: "Secrets keep you sick."

It's quite possible I will wrestle with missing certain behaviors while still choosing to heal for the rest of my life. I sure hope not, but it remains to be seen. Right now, I'll simply own that sometimes I'm afraid of complete ED recovery—and this feels like a normal human emotion.

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, October 6). Sometimes I'm Afraid of Complete ED Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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