Three Essential Steps to My Recovery
By Crystal Karges, MS. RDN, IBCLC
This year marks 12 years in recovery from my eating disorder. Though every day is a celebration of life and freedom. There is so much life I have been able to live and experience because of my recovery, and for that, I will always be grateful.
At the peak of my illness, I had little desire to move beyond the confines of my eating disorder. As punishing as it was, it was all I knew. It was safe inside my own prison because I didn’t realize there was more beyond the bars.
Looking back, I see how normalizing my eating disorder kept me sick and from reaching out for help for a long time. I began to believe the lie that I couldn’t possibly go through life without my eating disorder; and so, it became my crux. In many ways, it was my double-edged sword – something that helped me survive circumstances in my life that were overwhelming, but it was killing me in the process.
A significant turning point for me was grasping the physical damage in my body from the eating disorder. I’ll never forget when my doctor told me I had likely ruined my ability to ever have children. It was a sobering moment for me, as I had recently become engaged to the man with whom I wanted to have a family.
The truth is that sometimes we can do for others what we are unable to do for ourselves. At first, my motivation to find freedom from my eating disorder was for the ones I loved until slowly, I could do it for myself, too. But the important thing I learned is not to wait for the “right feeling” to come. Feelings come and go; choosing recovery is a commitment not based on a feeling.
3 steps that were essential to my recovery were:
- Honesty: My eating disorder thrived in secrecy and isolation. Because eating disorders are enshrouded in shame, it’s much easier to keep things hidden in silence. The minute I was able to openly share about the struggles I was facing with my eating disorder, I gave myself permission to recover and find freedom. Communicating with those I loved and trust exposed an area of darkness in my life that desperately needed light. Once it was exposed, the healing could begin.
- Accountability: I never felt more isolated, misunderstood, or detached from the world than in the depths of my eating disorder. It’s easy to feel like you are the only one struggling. When I was able to be honest about my eating disorder, I found that I could better connect with the resources that were available to help me. By surrounding myself with both professionals and loved ones who could keep me accountable, I was able to protect my progress and build momentum toward recovery.
- Consistency: The recovery road is often described as taking 2 steps forward and 5 steps back. It is most definitely not a linear journey and I learned the power of staying consistent in my efforts – even if things felt like a setback. This meant staying consistent with nourishing my body, practicing more effective coping strategies, and going to regular appointments – even if I didn’t necessarily feel like doing these things. Ongoing consistency in my recovery journey has been a powerful tool for helping me overcome the stronghold of my eating disorder.
My recovery journey has taught me that hope makes all things possible, no matter how bleak or hopeless a situation might seem to be. Wherever you might be on your journey, know that a full and lasting recovery is absolutely possible for you, too.
About the author:
Crystal Karges, MS. RDN, IBCLC is a Master’s-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, and Nutritional Therapist. With a San Diego based private practice, Crystal offers specialized nutrition counseling for maternal and perinatal eating disorders, body image healing, prenatal and postpartum wellness, pediatric health, and child feeding strategies. Combining her experience and expertise as an eating disorder dietitian and in maternal and child health, Crystal provides comprehensive online nutrition counseling and support that empowers women to confidently nourish themselves and their families throughout the motherhood journey, cultivate a positive body image, and live freely in a peaceful relationship with food. Through a weight inclusive framework, Crystal is committed to providing effective, compassionate, and evidenced-based nutrition care to mothers and families across San Diego county and worldwide through her online blog and virtual nutrition coaching practice.