What I Wish I Would Have Known, Starting Recovery

I don’t know what’s in the water here this week…maybe it’s the rainy weather that’s keeping everyone cooped up inside, but for whatever reason, my inbox has been *poppin’* more than usual with messages pertaining to eating disorder recovery.

Maybe it was the podcast, but book orders for my book, Bloom, are at an all time high, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

But I thought tonight I would open up a little bit more about my recovery. Sometimes, I’ll be honest, it’s easy to forget the “roots” of this blog. And when I say “easy,” what I really mean is…it’s more “comfortable.” It’s “comfortable” to talk about other things, and not revisit that part of my life that I’ve put behind me.

But that discomfort is precisely why I need to talk about it. Because frankly, no one else is. And there are a lot of people out there who, either they themselves, or a loved one, is walking through a similar, challenging season. And I think it’s time we bring that “closed door conversation” to light. Because that’s how we can best walk alongside one another in our journeys.

So: I’m going to answer one of the questions I have been asked most:

If there was one thing that I wish I would have known when I was starting recovery, what would it be?

This is such a difficult question, because there are so many things that I wish I would have known. — Things and topics ranging from weight restoration, to relationship issues, to hair loss, to bloating, to future plans.

But if I had to choose one thing, it would be this: there is hope to be found. 

And I know, that sounds like some “cop out” inspirational regurgitation that I found on a cheesy coffee mug on the clearance rack of TJ Maxx.

But it’s so true. More than anything else. That’s what I so desperately needed when I was teetering on the cusp of recovery: hope.

I think one of the grave misconceptions about anorexia and other eating disorders is that they’re about the weight. That the sufferer is just vainly obsessed about her appearance and her weight, and that the eating disorder is simply a “phase” driven by superficial peer/societal pressure.

And friends, that could not be further from the truth. Sure, maybe there are parts of that stereotype that sorta-kinda hint at the truth. But the stone cold reality is that eating disorders are not about the numbers on the scale. Sure, they play into her need for control. But the eating disorder is simply a manifestation of the wound she’s engulfed by on the inside. (And I’m saying “she,” but eating disorders also affect a number of “he’s” too.”)

For someone going through an eating disorder, there is no way out. They are trapped. Suffocating in this literal hell they’ve created for themselves, where they are enslaved to their eating disorder, and all the destructive behaviors it dictates.

The obsession with and restriction of food. The incessant, paralyzing need for exercise, and the incredibly brutal lengths that one will go to get it. The soul crushing isolation and coupling belief that one is unworthy of love of any kind: from others, from God, from oneself. And the resulting crippling guilt that one carries, furthering them deeper into the cycle of shame. And on and on it goes.

Personally, I had created this world that I didn’t know how to get out of. I felt buried alive. Each day in the disease was another shovel-full of dirt, pinning me in.

But the thing was, I couldn’t even begin to imagine a life without my anorexia. 

Sure, before my disease, I was a vibrant, fun loving, free-spirited girl with a plethora of friends, and dreams, and ambitions, passions, goals, and plans.

But that girl was six feet under ground. Completely obliterated from my faintest imagination or memory.

All I knew was the hell I was trapped in, and enslaved to.

I needed to know that there was hope.

I needed to know that one day, I would be myself again. That I would have life again. That I would smile again. Laugh again. Love again.

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I needed to know that I could let it all go.

But the trick was that I couldn’t do it myself.

I had to give it to God and let Him let it go for me.

Which was the hardest part. Because I had to come face to face with the God that I felt undeserving to even pray to.

I had to surrender to a God that I felt undeserving to even be the gum that He stepped in on the bottom of His sandal.

I felt unworthy to pray — or even to apologize. I had lied. Manipulated. Destroyed. Betrayed. And through my actions…tried to kill.


Even just a pinprick of it.

That’s what I needed.

And thank God for the Holy Spirit, taking over my heart – through song. Namely, Here I am to Worship.


Honestly, I didn’t think that this post was going to take such a “preachy” direction. That was not my intent. But frankly, I cannot speak about my recovery without also talking about Jesus, because they are one in the same. I could not have one without the other.

Hope is such a powerful thing. It can change your life. Heck, it can save your life. It can crumble even the most reinforced walls build around the heart. And it can exhume even the girl, suffocating in her own self-destructive hell.


There is hope to be found.

I wish my old self could have seen me now: healthy, joyful, and thriving. And with hair!

What gives you hope?

See ya tomorrow morning on my Podcast, Oh What a Beautiful Morning!! (They’re VIDEO podcasts this week!)


A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia.  Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.

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137 responses to “What I Wish I Would Have Known, Starting Recovery”

  1. I so wish 14 year old could see me now! Know how important Christ would need to be in life. Hope is the most important tool I have, the hope only found in Christ. Also TJ Maxx in the UK is known as TK Maxx. Also good luck to your Cincinnati Bengals you’re going to need it Let’s Go Ravens 🏈🏈🏈

  2. After watching your “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” podcast this morning, an older video surfaced from 2016. You were holding your original diary from inpatient and talking about possibly getting back to your BBB roots. Then I see tonight’s article and…what a coincidence!

    I’ve said it before; you really are at your best when dealing with difficult issues. That’s an ability I really appreciate in you.

    I’ve never had anorexia, but I have been without hope. Your analogy of being buried in a grave resonates with me. I wish me in 2012 could see me now when things are much better than then. Still facing challenges, but overall doing much better.

    I like the picture of you leaning against the building, as much for its placement within the article as for being a nice shot of you. I wouldn’t tell someone to look at that picture to be like you, but to see an example of what Jesus, perseverance, and hope can produce. Maybe someone can look at you and realize that if you can go from being so far gone that they had you sleep in the nurse’s station to being the being young lady in that shot, they can have their OWN VERSION of that. Another good reason to have let go of your anonymity!

    Don’t know if you caught my comment this morning at Patreon, but really loved the video cast, post-gym and all. Facial expression do so much! So, well done, my friend this morning AND this evening!

    • Aw thanks Jeff. And wow what a kind thing to say 🙂 I am truly touched. And you’re right – the challenges never go away, but the strength – and particularly where we draw our strength – changes things. Thanks again Jeff! You’re a great friend! Have a lovely night! Hugs and love to you and Julie! X

  3. What you have described here is the human condition. You had a struggle with your dependency, for that is what it was. And you discovered that its in the background always and requires a Higher Power to give the strength to resist self, and dependencies of different kinds are what we all have to deal with. The evil one tailor-makes a dependency for each of us that is destructive to self and others. That’s his game. He knows he hurts God by ruining God’s children. We are God’s children. That’s why we need to pray for each other. We are all part of God’s family and have an obligation to do that. God is love and we need to love each part of the family by praying and helping each other to conquer our dependencies whatever they may be. All of us are vulnerable, but as you point out with the Holy Spirit help we can deal with our dependencies and keep them under control.

    • That’s so true – we are His children. And amen! We need to pray for each other! Hugs and love xox

  4. Miss Caralyn,
    Please know that your post isn’t preachy, it’s passionate. There is a distinct difference in that this comes from your lived experience, opening the door, turning on the lights, and saying here’s what I needed in this dark moment. You get to see now what you needed then, you get to share now so that others might understand that HOPE is key to healing.
    From what I’ve read here on your blog, I do believe your parents were trying to give you this sense of hope. Perhaps in different words because of their fear of losing you.

    May you ever embrace hope as a spiritual gift. <3

    • Thank you Teri, that really means a lot. My parents really were doing just that 🙂 I am so grateful to them and for them. Hugs and love xox

  5. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.”
    You realized you had hope when you found you had faith. Praise God for your recovery and thank you for sharing your story.

  6. Not preachy at all. And certainly not cheesy. Anyone can get through the most debilitating, horrifying events they can possibly imagine if they have hope. Yes, there is hope to be found. And you share Who that hope is, Jesus. Awesome! Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!

  7. Honest and beautiful. Exactly how I describe you to my friends when I write out your blog address for them and they don’t have eating disorders that know of other than an addiction I too share…to the perfect cheeseburger in paradise ( Thank you Jimmy Buffet for giving my addiction it’s very own delicious song! ). I love you !

    • Thank you so much Rick. Oh gosh that means so much to me hat you’d pass my blog along 🤗 haha Hugs and love xox

  8. Beautiful post!! This truly resonates with me. ❤️❤️❤️ Hope.. life IS hell without it. The darkest I’ve ever felt was when a dr mistakenly told me that I would never recover from Lyme disease. I lost all hope that night and I didn’t know if I wanted to fight anymore. I never want to feel so helpless ever again. Fast track 7 years later I
    feel healthy and I am thriving. ☺️ There IS always hope…

    • Thank you so much! I’m so glad it resonated with you 🙂 amen – gotta clog to that hope. I’m so glad you didn’t stop fighting! Hugs and love xox

  9. What gives me hope is someone like you who has come through darkness and, at still a young age (similar to my daughter), now gets it, that the most courageous thing we can do is admit that our crosses really are too heavy to carry alone. And that you are owning what happened and using your past to shine a light toward those who have not yet realized the same thing. The world is brighter because you now have the courage to let God work through you. Paraphrasing Tolkien: “What matters most is what we do with the time that we are given.” Hugs and love, my dear– Mike

    • Oh my gosh what an incredibly kind note of encouragement. Thank you Mike. I am humbled by your generous words. God is good and I am so grateful for His healing power in my life! Hugs and love xox

  10. I too was one of those people who thought eating disorders were a phase. 15 years later, I began my recovery. I really thought I would grow out of it in a year or so. No big deal, I’ll get over it and it’ll all be fine. It was not fine for a very long time.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you’ve embraced your recovery! That’s something to celebrate! Hugs and love xox

  11. Thank you for your beautiful writing. What gives me hope is my daughter. To my mind her extra chromosome has given her extra sensitivity and the most genuine ability to love I have ever been fortunate enough to receive.

    • That is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. I am inspired 😊 sending so much love to you and your precious daughter! Xox

  12. The similarities to recovery from addiction are eerie, however not surprising to me, for me I would say I had be done, not just looking for a brief reprieve, then I was able to know that hope

  13. Love this post! “t’s “comfortable” to talk about other things, and not revisit that part of my life that I’ve put behind me”.–I said something very similar today at lunch talking with a friend of mine as we were discussing an addiction education class I’m teaching tomorrow (Friday) morning. Sometimes, I want to leave the past behind. Leave that story in the rearview mirror. But, I can’t. Because I might get too comfortable or too confident. I might forget. And for me, that could be deadly. I need to remember. Sharing my experience helps me stay clean & sober. I can’t separate my recovery from Jesus either. Without Him, I would be gone, let alone lost. Grateful for the grace He gave me. Thanks for this post.

    • I’m so glad this resonated with you. You’re right – His grace is life changing! Hugs and love xox

  14. you have the most inspirational posts, i love to read them. i want to shout amen but also: i wish i had become one of God’s children sooner. i only recently found hope in Him but the way you describe recovery with Him by your side makes me wish i had stopped rejecting God sooner. and of course, as always, every sentiment of yours rings chillingly true and i am so SO glad that they have a voice behind them, spreading them out into the world.

    • Oh gosh thank you Rosie. What a kind thing to say. The beautiful thing is that God sees the heart and loves you here and now 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  15. People who don’t know the Lord or try to ignore him find posts like this preachy or too saccharine. But until you’ve felt the glories of hope, you just won’t get it.

    I never had an eating disorder, but I’ve had my demons. What’s helped me get to a better place and just be happier—and weather storms better—is when some 20 years ago I said to myself “All right, I’ll give this a try; what do I have to lose? How can things get any worse?” Slowly, bit by bit, the Spirit worked on me and worked with me. Because it’s a process and it takes YEARS.

    This is exactly how you put it, and it’s why those who feel like there’s no hope left need to try the one thing they’ve been running away from.

    So yeah, “preachy” or “cheesy” as it may be, it’s the truth. And you said it well.

    • Thank you Alex, I’m so glad you can relate. Amen! The Spirit WORKS! 🙂 glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  16. Being six feet under with shovels of dirt falling on you is such a vivid description of being without hope. It brought tears to my eyes as it described the feeling I had just a year or so ago as I battled depression. It was the renewed hope I found in Jesus Christ that raised me from this grave situation. Looking back I can see now what I couldn’t then – seeing beyond despair; that God’s grace is sufficient. I can also see how God placed people in my life to help me through the journey, to guide me out of the pit. I had to make a choice to listen to them, to humbly cry out to God and submit to his plan for my life. Now I can see how God is using my experience to help others who are going through depression. Thank you for sharing your journey and offering hope to others.

    • Thank you friend. I’m glad this hit home with you. Amen – His grace really is sufficient. So glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

      • I’m becoming a newer inventive distributor online the world wide web. We sell items, books and such. Do You, self-publish and do Your very own book selling? I’d like to knowledge the gift-brjnging item You permit?

  17. Beautiful post from a beautiful young lady, inside and out. Thank you so much for visiting my blog today; I think it’s been a year or two since you came by. A lot of my posts are probably a bit offensive to you, so thank you for still following. Keep up the great work. A bright, strong woman like you has a lot to offer the world.

  18. Hey, lady, Nice to see your sunny smile. Have you found yourself public speaking opportunities? You’ve a lot of great material to work with.

    And I think that your journey beyond ED is important. ED may have been the crux of the relationship at one point, but the strength we gain through trail leads us forward into new responsibilities. You might need a new flag to wave over your head, something that characterizes that growing mission – with ED being that proof that guides you past any obstacle. “God brought me through that – He’ll get me through this.”

    I also wanted to be sure that you were aware of my new joy. It’s out at hypnosisrising.com, if you have time to look at it.

    • Aw thank you so much Brian. I will def check that out. None yet! Other than the podcasts! Hugs and love xox

  19. BBB,

    I am so happy that you gravitated to the truth and didnt fall victim to finding a creative intellectual way to dismiss or downplay the God in an effort to appeal to a broader base of readers.

    Thank you. We need more of that. Notice I said ‘gravitated’ to the Truth?

    And Indeed We have.

    Many addictions and disorders are rooted in the Spirit. The root of the problem is never addressed by going to the local Rx or Doctor. Medicine does not treat the spirit, it treats the physical but just like a ban aid, soon the ban aid will fall off.

    Rehab and treatment facilities have huge failure rates because they fail to shift the focus away from the ailment or addiction the person suffers from.

    Your living walking proof of what works and how. By shifting your focus onto God. Dont worry about it sounding preachy. I applaud you for standing tall and being a testimony. God holds the Authority to break anyone free from the shackles they find themselves wearing.

    The shackles come in many forms. The easy choice- believe medicine and treatment will work. The hard- understanding deliverance, God, and knowing how to break free from the forces of oppresion.

    • Thank you so much for this beautiful affirmation. You’re right – God heals the spirit. Hugs and love xox

  20. Hi Caralyn: Your Beauty and your Wisdom are God given gifts, and I believe, as you continue to give Him Glory and Praise, you will receive His Blessings in Abundance.
    Knowing we can never out give God, you will be on the receiving end for all time, as you give unto Him, and since all time never ends, it certainly will be a blessing to meet you in Glorious Heaven, as we can rejoice together singing “Worthy is the Lamb”.

    Your words and life are always inspirational, and encouraging, directing all the Jesus Christ, the “Answer”, as well as the “Yes and Amen” to our Heavenly Father.

    Although I don’t personally know anyone with ED, I know family members of some who suffer. From the previous Street Ministry we were part of for years, I know many who are abusers of alcohol and drugs. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only Answer for them as well. I continue to glean from your posts, as you are a continual encourager.

    One fellow in particular, that I have gotten to know well over the years, knows all about Jesus, listens to all that is said, when he is sober, but always slips back. These days he is never sober, and tells me he doesn’t want to talk when drunk. I know he is getting closer to death, and says he wants to die, has no purpose in life. Jesus is his only HOPE I know, and the only way to reach him, is through intercessory prayer, knowing and trusting Holy Spirit to break through. I will not give up.

    Caralyn, God Bless You Abundantly, in all you do.
    Serving Jesus Together, Separately,

  21. This may help/ ! Years ago I heard a pastor talk about past pain and suffering with this one question. Knowing what you know now would you really have wanted to know in advance?

  22. Rereading, did you have hope after the song?

    I guess now, my Christian education gives me hope. But deeper, it’s a gift

    So I understand: God’s love (and, through others), and surrender, leads to hope.

  23. Hope and seeing the light for the first time is crucial to any recovery. Its so nice to read about how good people come through life’s challenges and I also agree one of the key factors in any recovery is having God on your side. Good luck

  24. I always look forward to your blog. Thank you again for being transparent and making yourself vulnerable. It helps to see a fellow sojourner through the maze of mental health doing well. The LORD be with you.

  25. Lady, you are truly amazing, I know you credit god for your recovery. And I would never argue that with you, but I credit you! You are one truly tough and amazing woman. You yourself did it, and you are an inspiration!

    Take care!

    • Oh gosh thank you Tony. You’re kind to say that 🙂 God is a great empowerer! Haha Hugs and love xox

    • Hi Paola! Oh gosh that touches my heart. I’m so glad. Cheering for you in your recovery, friend! Hugs and love xox

  26. As somebody who is in a dark place at the moment I find Hope very important, and seriously lacking right now. Anybody who’s read my blog recently will know how much im struggling. And yes hope does feel missing. No matter how bad it gets though i’m so self aware of my situation that i understand this is a fleeting moment, something that will pass. That kind of gives me hope (I guess), And right now i’ll take anything I can get. The first step on any road to recovery is recognising you have a problem. And its never an easy journey. I can almost understand why people choose not to get better. Sometimes being bad is easier than the struggling of recovery.

    But blogs like yours are inspirational. They give hope. Whether you are a recovering alcoholic, a drug user, have an eating disorder or suffer with cripping depression and anxiety the biggest step is recognising the enemy within. And taking that step to recovery. No its never going to be an easy journey and sometimes hope is noticibly absent, but we just need to persevere, continue the struggle. Have faith that we can recover.

    Faith and hope are missing at the moment for me but as I said, its fleeting. The dark days cant last for ever. (there’s a glimmer of hope).

    Thank you for the inspiration that we all need a bit of sometimes.

  27. Oh my goodness how I loved this! So on point! I myself have struggled with bulimia and I literally just blogged abt this last night. How wild HOPE! God is so good! Great job sweetie!💗😊

  28. I just read this again, and I cannot thank you enough for what you do. Thank you for reading my posts even when I don’t read yours. I’m glad you remember the foundation of this blog dear Caralyn. You are beautiful inside and out.

  29. I can so relate with this post! Jesus – our One and only Glorious Hope. Because of Him, recovery IS possible. I myself am recovering from a lot of things and I hope to write more about them in my blog – hoping I can touch even one life as I share about the love of and hope we have in Jesus. Thanks for liking and dropping by my blog! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. Amen to that — Because of Him, recovery is SO possible!! Hugs and love xox

  30. Hi, I have literally just seen your blog on Pinterest and it was just what I needed for where I am in my anorexia recovery. I’m also a Christian and I live for the hope unseen, hope and God has saved my life. Thank you for your blog, I will be saving the link and going back to it for inspiration 🌞🕊️

    • I’m so glad our paths crossed, Kim! Cheering for you and your recovery! Rock on warrior! I believe in you!! Hugs and love xox

  31. Caralyn, my name is Joseph. I am new to WordPress. It was a blessing to read how God has delivered you from the destructive life. I too had hit a rock bottom when Jesus reached way down and pulled me out of this unforgiving pit. Praise be to His Wonderful Name! I hope all is well with you. God bless.

    • Hi Joseph, thank you for sharing your story. God is good! So glad you stopped by! God bless! Hugs and love xox

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