More threads by Eunoia


How do you know when you have recovered?
by Margaret Goldkopf-Woodtke
In Eating Disorders: New Directions in Treatment and Revovery (2nd ed.), edited by Barbara P. Kinoy

This is an excerpt from a paper on recovery by a psychologist who herself has struggled and recovered from an eating disorder. Her hopes in writing the paper were to answer a question that she is often asked, how she knew when she had recovered, and deal with the complexity of the question in itself.

"Had I recovered once I gained back enough weight to have my menstrucal cycle return? Had I recovered once I could tolerate wearing bigger sizes? Had I recovered when I happened to glance at my chart in the doctor's office, which read, 'Diagnosis- Anorexia Nervosa/ Recovered'? Had I recovered when I could express anger appropriately? Had I recovered when I could start making important life decisions based on my own needs? Had I recovered when I could listen to my own hunger? Had I recovered when I could tolerate uncomfortable feelings without starving myself? Had I recovered when I could laugh again?

The best answer I can offer to all of these questions is that all these experiences were a part of my recovery, and not necessarily in the order I wrote them. They happened. Through therapy, through commitment to my own well- being, and through support, recovery happened! By dealing with my pain, facing my fears, it became possible for me to grow- in every way.

I also need to say that full recovery is possible. Patients need to stay committed to their work even after symptoms disappear. The journey is long but one that does have a light at then end of the tunnel. All that I feared, the hurts I felt, even the desire to be on top of things, have not disappeared. I am, fortunately, still a human being but one who is living life more fully [....] and especially thankful for the great gifts of faith, hope, and laughter!"

the paper is by Margaret Goldkopf-Woodtke, included in the book Eating Disorders: New Directions in Treatment and Revovery (2nd ed.) edited by Barbara P. Kinoy

I think this excerpt sheds a little light on exactly what the author intended to do.. that recovery is possible, but that it is a long journey and a complex one. I have often asked myself, whether recovery is possible, and if it is, what that looks like... there are certain criteria you have to meet in order to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, so it makes all the more sense to wonder about when you can be considered recovered: is it just a matter of having "normal" eating behaviours? No. The eating itself is only a symptom. And who makes that decision? For example, maybe acoording to some criteria the person goes through a phase of no longer meeting the exact criteria for eating disorder "A" but does that mean s/he no longer has an eating disorder? No. As stated above, this is a VERY complex question.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Good article, Eunoia.

Just a reminder to all members give full credit to the author along with a link to the original web poge or print publication source whenever possible when posting articles.
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