I have seen a lot on social media recently about “Full in Recovery”. That supposedly meaning throwing yourself completely into full on eating disorder recovery and committing 100% to total recovery. Great if that works for you. But it won’t work for everybody. And I think portraying “Full in recovery” as the best option for eating disorder recovery and insinuating that those who pause at a certain point in their recovery for a while, or attempt recovery more gradually, are not really recovering can actually be very detrimental and discouraging for others.
I am someone who never liked the approach of Full in Recovery. It doesn’t work for me. I have always had to take things slowly, at my own pace, never feeling pushed or rushed. Yes, that means that my recovery has/is taking a long time, but that doesn’t make it any less of a recovery. And whilst it may look to others that I am not doing full recovery, or that I’m stuck in quasi-recovery, I would argue very differently. Recovery is a journey. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s eating disorder recovery will be different. And actually, for me to be where I am with my recovery is huge progress from where I ever thought I would get to. Yes it has taken many years, and yes I have never gone Full in Recovery. But I am doing recovery that works for me.
As a child I was never someone who would just jump straight into the swimming pool. There are always kids who take a running jump and just throw themselves right into the deep end. Not me. I would carefully, very carefully, work my way into the pool down the steps. It was a very slow process. That is just how I am. So the idea of Full in Recovery is something that was, and is, never going to work for me.
Just because someone might still consume low calorie/diet foods, or are not be able to eat extra snacks, this does not make their recovery any less valuable or important and it can be equally as positive and progressive as someone doing “Full in Recovery”. For one, you have no idea where that person started from. I know for myself, a couple of years ago I would never EVER have touched ice-cream. So having gone the best part of 10 years not eating ice-cream, over the past couple of years I’ve started eating it. I have made progress with my recovery to now be able to comfortably and happily eat a whole tub of ice-cream. Yes, that tub of ice-cream is “low calorie” (although as I eat the whole tub it is not particularly low calorie) but it is progress from where I was when I could not eat any ice-cream.
Recovery for me has been about stepping stones. In this example, I have stepped from no ice-cream, to a small bit of “low calorie” ice-cream, to a whole tub of “low calorie” ice-cream. And in time, the step to “normal” ice-cream will hopefully happen. But I can’t just go all in. That is not me, that is not in my innate personality. And I do not think it is fair to say that me, or anyone else, is not really doing recovery because we don’t go all in. That my recovery is not really recovery because I eat low calorie ice-cream, or whatever else apparently is not considered “Full in Recovery.”
There is no time limit to eating disorder recovery. Yes, you make look back over the years and think I wish I had done certain things sooner. But you do what works for you at the time. If I do things too quickly, I generally end up going backwards. I’m not saying that you always have to feel ready to progress certain things in recovery because often you will never actually feel ready. But I know within myself when I am able to push myself to the next stage. I don’t necessarily feel ready for the next stage, but I reach the point where I know I must push into it.
If you feel able to do Full in Recovery and it is an approach that works for you then by all means do it. If like me, it is not an approach that suits you, then do not think that your recovery is any less worthy. Because all recovery, no matter how small, no matter how slow, no matter if it is two steps forward one step back, no matter if it is Full in or 10% in, it is still recovery.
Portraying “Full in Recovery” as the best and likely only way to properly attempt recovery is something I strongly disagree with. As I said earlier, recovery is journey and everyone’s journey will be different. There is no right or wrong way to recover. You have to do what works for you. Full in Recovery or not, we are all doing are best. And your best is totally good enough.