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There's No "Right" Timeframe for Recovery

Alexander Kovarovic

I used to become so depressed that I would hate myself for every little thing I perceived as a flaw. I'd spend hours daily making lists of the things I needed to work on and the things that just weren't right about me. This constant battle in my head left me never feeling good enough. I'd toss and turn in bed some nights wondering what I could do to just see myself as perfect. 

That was my biggest mistake. There really is no definition or idea of perfection. No one is, by definition, “perfect,” because we all have flaws. Our flaws are what make us who we are meant to be. As a society, we constantly think about what's wrong with us and if people will see our flaws and weaknesses. We don't take time to look at how strong we are, how talented we are, and how intelligent we are. 

I used to become so depressed from my low self-esteem that I would constantly self-harm; I'd regularly hurt myself just so I could take a break from all the thoughts I had about myself. It became so serious that I found myself eating very little, just in hopes of possibly liking myself once again. This went on for several months, and during those months, I felt very empty and broken, and like nothing else mattered but what I looked like. 

Self-harm has a strong correlation with eating disorders. For me, they were both results of stress, trauma, and me finding flaws in myself and not knowing how to handle it. So many people are judged daily for who they are, what their body looks like, and what they eat. I will never understand why some people feel the need to send shame and hate to people living with eating disorders. As someone who has been through it, I know how hard it is and how much of a challenge it is to overcome. 

The truth is that your looks are simply that: your looks. What you look like does not define you. It doesn't define your character, your personality, or why you're likable. Having an eating disorder was one of the hardest things I've been through, but having that eating disorder made me the strong person that I am today. I realized that my eating disorder does not define me. I can get better. I can feel better about myself. And most importantly, I can be me.

I thought that I could just eat again and be better in a week. It actually took me two years to work through my eating disorder – and that's okay. The problem of today is that some people feel that they will get better so quickly and when they don't, they stop trying. Whether it’s an eating disorder or self-harm, it still is a difficult roadblock that will take time to get better. It may take three months or it might take five years, and no one timeframe is the “right” one. We all work through things at a different pace and that's what makes us individuals. 

Always remember that your eating disorder does not and will never define who you are as a person. Having an eating disorder means that you're a very strong person who just needs a little push to get back on track. If you're working through an eating disorder, then I am so incredibly proud of you. It takes hard work and lots of effort to work through it. It takes time, don't forget that. Stay strong – you can do this! 

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

Alexander Kovarovic is an 18-year-old writer, as well as an abuse, suicide attempt, and eating disorder survivor. He also lived with depression and anxiety, and now wants to help other teens get through their personal life struggles.