Recovered vs Recovering

“Having recovered myself, I know the courage it takes to accept, the support it takes to battle, and the environment it takes to heal from an eating disorder. Getting better means getting yourself back, not letting yourself go.”

– Carolyn Costin

Monte Nido believes that individuals who seek treatment for eating disorders can become fully recovered.

Many people come to Monte Nido after years of living with the illness. They are exhausted, defeated and quite hopeless. When you know you can be recovered, that the illness can be gone, a thing in the past, it offers encouragement to suffer through what it takes to get well because all the suffering will eventually come to an end. Monte Nido’s Founder, Carolyn Costin, recovered from anorexia nervosa since 1976, has held the position and spoken out openly for over three decades that being fully recovered is possible. She has treated countless individuals who are now fully recovered and several have gone on to become eating disorder therapists themselves. Clients are filled with hope when they see professionals who have made peace with their food and body issues and through modeling prove their eating disorder is a thing of the past. Our staff exudes confidence in understanding and dealing directly with the eating disorder symptoms while offering hope and inspiration to our clients that they too can become fully recovered. Clients consistently tell us that our philosophy combined with the fact that they actually get to see and work with recovered staff members was key in their getting well.

We feel that the use of the terms “recovery” and “recovering” can be ambiguous. Someone could use either of these terms and be abstinent from all eating disorder behaviors, but another might say she is in recovery or recovering yet remain underweight, restricting calories or even still binging and purging. Clients who are still in treatment will use these terms because it means to them they are in the process of getting better. We understand that.

How to define “recovered” is another thing altogether. All would agree that to be recovered there must be an absence of symptoms. However, we believe that our task is larger than just helping someone recover from the symptoms. In fact, this is where Monte Nido & Affiliates think there is a big difference between “recovering” and “recovered”. When one is “recovered” from an eating disorder, it truly is a thing in the past that is no longer there. One does not fear – or is not tempted into – relapsing back into the illness.

At Monte Nido we share the definition for the term “recovered” (from Carolyn Costin’s book “100 Questions and Answers About Eating Disorders”) with clients and work hard to set clients on the path to achieve it:

“Being recovered to me is when the person can accept his or her natural body size and shape and no longer has a self destructive or unnatural relationship with food or exercise. When you are recovered, food and weight take a proper perspective in your life and what you weigh is not more important than who you are; in fact, actual numbers are of little or no importance at all. When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul to look a certain way, wear a certain size or reach a certain number on a scale. When recovered, you do not use eating disorder behaviors to deal with, distract from, or cope with other problems”

Becoming recovered does not happen from doing any specific thing. It does not happen on a certain day. It will not happen the day someone leaves a treatment program. Being recovered is a gradual process and gets stronger and stronger over time. There is no one who can proclaim this for anyone else. When you are recovered, it is you who really knows.