Uncovering the Real Me in Recovery Through Art

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Meaghan E. Worthey

Before I sat down to write this blog for NEDA (a dream come true), I wrote down a grocery list with all my favorites foods. This is a normal part of life for some, but it was just a couple years ago when I would have severe panic attacks when my mother came home with groceries. The irony of it all is that I started working in a grocery store right out of treatment. I would bring in the shopping carts and find all of the left behind grocery lists. I saved all of the lists as a reminder to me of how badly I wanted a healthy relationship with food. I dreamed of writing normal grocery lists and I dreamed of recovery. 

Recovery is the most important part of my story, not my eating disorder. I don’t identify as someone just recovering from an eating disorder as I did before. I am so much more than something that tried to kill me. 

Recovery is about uncovering the real you. I uncovered an ocean of creativity, a connection with my higher power, a deep love for animals, a compassionate sense of self, and a crazy passion for life. 

Recovery didn’t happen overnight, at least definitely not for me. It was not a cookie cutter triumphant story or a straight path towards a finish line. My recovery was and still is a complete beautiful mess. 

For the past 8 years I’ve discovered so many parts of myself. Some are breathtaking and some are cringe worthy. But to me recovery is about acceptance. Acceptance of my body, my habits, my relationships, my life, and most importantly, myself. 

The three vital tools I used in the trenches of my recovery were:

    1. Affirmations 
    2. Artwork 
    3. Poetry 

My therapist had the idea to write personal affirmations on flashcards and carry them with me everywhere I went. I would read them over every day, on good days and bad days. They definitely made a huge impact on helping me rewire my negative thinking. I can’t thank my therapist enough for showing me the power of affirmations.

Artwork is where I found my voice. One of my friends from my outpatient group is a graduate of Yale university with her masters in art. A couple of the girls would get coffee after group for extra support. One day she handed me a pen and paper then told me to draw. I fell in love. I felt so free drawing this little abstract tree with swirls for branches. Drawing, painting, and creating became a huge part of my recovery from then on out. I knew I wasn’t the best artist in the world but it never mattered because I loved what I did. 

Poetry was something that really blossomed for me throughout my recovery. It was being able to say everything I wanted to say but with a veil of mystic beauty over it. To this day I don’t really use any other forms of expressive outlets as much as I use poetry. Poetry is another vital branch I use as a voice rather than my eating disorder. 

I wrote a book a year ago titled Affirmations of the Soul: Recovery is About Uncovering the Real You. I included affirmations, artwork, and poetry in my book to hopefully inspire someone else. I’ve donated 150 books to treatment centers across the country. I also have created a website called uncoveringtherealyou.com, where people from all different paths of recovery can share their own personal affirmations, artwork, and stories. 

My website’s objective is to unite a community of different people from different paths around one common goal: to find recovery and healing through authenticity and creativity.

Today, I am more than a year free of all eating disordered behavior and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I am not exempt from the fall of relapse but I work hard everyday to stay on my chosen path towards good health and a good life. 

I told myself one day, “I will not spend the rest of my life looking up to people who say it is possible, I will be that person who people look up to and say, ‘It is possible.”

Meaghan Elizabeth Worthey is an excited first-time author and illustrator of her self-published book titled Affirmations of the Soul: Recovery is About Uncovering the Real You. She is a strong advocate for recovery and hopes to inspire others throughout the experience of her own.