Recovery Story: Hopeful and Happier than ever
University student Hannah was diagnosed with anorexia in 2017. Now in ‘committed recovery’, she says she’s able to enjoy a life of excitement, laughter and optimism once again.
“Although I still have some way to go, committing to recovery has allowed me to become hopeful, far happier and healthier in both mind and body every day. Some advice I would give anybody else considering recovery is do not wait for recovery to ‘happen’ to you.
You must actively seek it yourself."
I spent so many months hoping that I would finally feel ready, that somebody else would cure me or that I would suddenly find the perfect therapy treatment. It took me a long time to understand that unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. Although help along the way from treatment teams, friends and family are essential in making the path a little less steep, you are the one whose initiative and actions will make progress.
Fear of what was coming really held me back from really committing to recovery, and this prevented me from even beginning for so long. If you wait until you’re completely ready to begin, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.
One thing that has helped me in recovery is learning the power of breathing. Before I developed Anorexia, I thought that potentially one of the most irritating things somebody could say to me when I was in a panic was: "Han, breathe." Ironically, during recovery, this is exactly what I began to tell myself. I learnt that deep breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which releases a hormone to slow the heart rate.
So, it turns out, we can actually voluntarily switch between our nervous systems. If you think about it, is pretty cool and an example of how amazing our bodies are. Learning about this type of thing helped me appreciate how much respect I owe my body.
I can’t tell you often this stopped that overwhelming fight or flight urge of either running from the table or throwing my plate across the room. Knowing this technique helped me, my family encouraged me to take some slow, long deep breaths on the frequent occasions I begin to panic. Committing to recovery was the best thing I ever did.
Now, I feel like I can hear the authenticity in my own laugh. I feel happiness and my family say they can see this in my eyes. I fall asleep excited for the following day, rather than fearing what might come and feeling like there is no way out.
Perhaps it’s not the old Han making a reappearance, but a new, stronger young woman instead. Recovery might just be one of the hardest things I ever do, but I know in my heart it will be worth it. I still have some way to go, but I can already feel it’s awesome benefits. When I can look back and say that I have completely beaten this, I will be so proud.
- May 2019