A couple of years ago, I volunteered at a nonprofit eating disorder organization, USF Hope House for Eating Disorders. Upon meeting me, the director posed the question, "Do you think it's possible to be "recovered" from an eating disorder?"
With all of my OA program knowledge, and knowing that her program wasn't 12-Step based, instantly I replied, "No." Was she serious? Recover from an eating disorder? I had learned better.
Since then, I have questioned the term "recovered" often. "Recovered" could be rather subjective, depending on who you ask.
Does "recovered" mean that you just don't indulge in bingeing, purging, starving, or compulsive exercising anymore?
Does "recovered" mean that in addition to the above, you also never have another ED thought again?
How do we measure "recovered?"
"Recovery," on the other hand, while a humbling state of mind, could feel insecure to those who believe in "recovered," because it suggests a lack of permanence. One must watch their back at all times because the disease is always lurking around the corner, patiently waiting.
I don't have the answers, but what I do know is that over the last 15 years, I've met more and more people who believe they are "recovered." While I don't believe myself to be "recovered" because of all the mental hangups I still buy into when it comes to body image and food, I don't necessarily believe that anorexia and bulimia are diseases...in the same way that compulsive overeating mimics the disease model of addiction.
...To be continued.