Eating Disorders: Hope When Recovery Seems Impossible

December 17, 2010 Angela E. Gambrel

When I first sought eating disorders treatment more than two years ago, I was certain I was going to come out of the two-week hospital stay completely free of anorexia. Several of the nurses told me that I would be successful at recovery because I only had had anorexia for about one year and therefore the disease hadn't yet become an integral part of my personality — yet. I walked out of the hospital fully believing all this, but I soon became engulfed in a fog of anorexic thoughts and behaviors within weeks of being discharged.fog-looks-endlessI couldn't see past calories or weight, and my fear of food and eating came hurtling back. It was as if I had never been in treatment at all.

The Difficulty of Recovering From Anorexia

Why are eating disorders so hard to treat? Since that first hospitalization, I have been readmitted six more times. I also went through a six-week partial hospitalization program this spring. I missed a week of graduate school classes in February because I was so sick, and spent several weeks struggling to catch up. My husband, David, and I separated for one month during September and we are still working hard to make our relationship be one of joy and intimacy, instead of our relationship being always tied to anorexia.

Yet I still struggle with eating and body image issues. I'm still not recovered.

I have friends with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder who have been through similar things. I have one friend with anorexia who is hospitalized every two weeks because her body is so sick after fifteen, sixteen years of fighting her illness. I have another friend who struggles to leave her house because her weight makes it sometimes too painful for her to even move.

It is a litany of lost opportunities, broken relationships, and often severe health problems. But it is not hopeless. I remember when I was feeling at my worst, a friend of mine sent me this picture.

forangela-003jpgThis was her gentle push for me to continue to work on recovery and live.

Recovering From Anorexia Takes the Right Attitude

Seeing it reminds me of another friend, Michelle. Michelle battled anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder at various times in her life for almost two decades. It seemed as if she would never escape eating disorders; she would always be locked in some sort of battle in her mind and her spirit. She went through numerous treatments and two divorces.

Then, one day, she had had enough and got down on her hands and knees and prayed to be delivered from her eating disorder hell. From that day on, she moved forward and recovered from the eating disorders. She started reaching out to other people, and helped lead eating disorder support groups. She now has a successful career and has not had any symptoms for about 15 years.

I'm not saying the answer for everyone is prayer. Each one of us has a path toward recovery we must travel. But travel it we must. I am an avid reader of eating disorder blogs and recently I have seen a trend that disturbs me — the idea that someone with an eating disorder can accept his or her illness, live with it instead of trying to recover. That seems to be skating the edges of pro-anorexia / pro-bulimia beliefs.

Instead, I will continue to believe in hope.Hope

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2010, December 17). Eating Disorders: Hope When Recovery Seems Impossible, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

gry hazardowe
March, 21 2011 at 4:55 am

I really like yours site.. keep going

December, 21 2010 at 11:09 am

Wow, Angela! I had no idea you'd posted this!
I really believe we should never give up hope. Without hope, we don't try, and if we don't try we'll never get anywhere.

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