23 Gifts Eating Disorder Recovery Has Given Me


In honor of my 23rd birthday, I wanted to reflect on just how far I've come in the past year. At this time last year, I was in "recovery" but quickly heading into a relapse. While I'm still having to work hard on recovery, the changes are hard to deny and have been life-changing. 

I've decided to create a list of 23 gifts (shoutout @leenahlovesherself for the idea!) that recovery has given me, for my birthday.

  1. Increased self-worth. I am finally starting to believe I am worthy of good things, and that actually, I don't have to suffer.
  2.  Body neutrality. I still struggle with my body image, but I am starting to accept my body as it is. I am appreciative of my body for never giving up on me, and I'm in awe of all it can do, and survive. 23 years have been tough but my body is still fighting hard for me every day.
  3. Clarity. Bye-bye to the fogginess that clouded my thoughts and my life. I can see clearly, now.
  4. The energy to fully engage in my life, time as a graduate student, and to live in my favorite city.
  5. Effective coping skills that make it so I no longer have to resort to ED behaviors to deal with pain and uncomfortable situations.
  6. A voice. Anorexia no longer speaks for me. I've told it to shut up, and I'm finally able to access my true voice. 
  7. Incredible opportunities that I could have never had without choosing recovery. From being published on multiple platforms to working with Project HEAL, I feel truly blessed.
  8. My creativity is back!! For years, I was stuck in one of the worst writer's blocks I've ever had. Now, I can't stop writing. Art and photography are now something I enjoy, where I previously wouldn't do them because I wasn't "creative enough". B.S.!
  9. A new community of some of the strongest people I've ever met. It is a privilege and an honor that I couldn't be more proud to be a part of. 
  10. Passion. I am so very passionate about making a change in the mental health community. This stemmed from me first addressing my own mental health needs.
  11. Friends that have seen me through the lowest lows and stuck around to see me come back for this triumph. I am forever grateful to all of you.  <3
  12. Confidence. I now believe in myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. And that if I stumble along the way, I can get back up again.
  13. The ability to ask for help. No one can do any of this life thing alone, and I've finally learned how to ask for help with it. I'll always need a little assistance, and that's okay, because now I know I can get it when I need it.
  14. Improved self-awareness. Not only am I now more aware of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities, I'm also more aware of my strengths and assets. I feel like I am more in tune with how I'm really feeling, and what exactly I need.
  15. A new sense of purpose. I've finally found something that truly speaks to me. I know that my calling is to improve mental health, and that my experiences will make me more effective.
  16. Depth. I can finally explore the parts of myself that don't just have to do with food, exercise, or things to do with my body or appearance.
  17. A sense of spontaneity. No longer am I afraid to go somewhere without meticulous planning or studying menus first. Now if someone wants to do something I've found I can be spontaneous. My life is no longer defined by rules and rigidity.
  18. Courage. To face the tough stuff and the power to know I can make it through it.
  19. Strength. I am the strongest I've been in a long, long, time. I would not feel this way had I not chosen recovery.
  20. Hope. For me. For recovery. For something better than being held back by my eating disorder and mental illnesses.
  21. Freedom. I am no longer trapped in the jail and misery that is my eating disorder. There are so many new foods, experiences, and memories I'm now free to have. It's something I've never been able to have before.
  22. My life back. I am no longer defined by so many arbitrary rules or trying to be as sick as I can be. I am simply me, and there are endless possibilities as a result of that.
  23. A real future. Full of hope and a million chances to do what I want to do. The future is finally bright and ready for me to take on the world.

I am so proud of how far I've come in the past year, and I am so hopeful that 23 will be the best year yet.


I think reflecting on your birthdays can prove to be so hopeful to see where you are are and where you want to be.

I have a ways to go, but I know that choosing and maintaining recovery will make this year the best one yet. Thank you, recovery, for the greatest gifts I could have ever been given.


About the Author: Charlotte Kurz

Charlotte is earning a Master's degree in public health from NYU. At Project HEAL, she is one of the National Blog Managers and a volunteer with the NYC Chapter. She is passionate about public health, decreasing mental health stigma, and using her voice to create social change. Charlotte's favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip.



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