The Importance of Having "Warrior” Friends in Recovery

In recovery it can be both helpful and key to have people you can rely on who are also suffering from the same problems. People who personally know the torturous emotions you are feeling and who have experienced (first hand) a similar mental takeover as yourself.

I agree that overcoming an eating disorder is a battle that only the sufferer can truly fight. I also believe that it was me who threw my anorexic demon off her throne and it is me who now sits on that very throne as Queen of my mental kingdom. However I also believe that a Queen is hopeless without her warriors. While I agree that my war with anorexia was a one-on-one battle, I must also state that the armour I wore was a gift; I would not have won without it. A gift so crucial to my ruling that I never forget to thank the makers behind it. I must also remind myself that I never would be ruling without the guidance of other warriors that shone an endless light in my darkest times, nor would I be here at all without the atmospheric cry of the diamond chain breakers themselves.

Suffering from an eating disorder can leave you with the feeling that your mind has been abducted from your body. Almost like a powerful figure is shadowing over the top of your body tossing about your brain. Playing games with your thoughts and bouncing your brain like a basketball. They don't feel like your thoughts anymore, but someone else's... yet you can hear them so close to your ears that you believe, 'they must be mine.' Your thoughts feel detached from your body and your body feels detached from your thoughts but somehow there's still an uncontrollable connection you are oblivious to. You are simply a puppet at this point controlled by an invisible puppet master who's cold shadow is only felt but never seen. The dark shadow claws at your brain as it bounces, and spends their life twiddling your body by the diamond chains that they've attached to your limbs.

Meet the light leaders, makers and diamond chain breakers:

In recovery it can be both helpful and key to have people you can rely on who are also suffering from the same problems. People who personally know the torturous emotions you are feeling and who have experienced (first hand) a similar mental takeover as yourself. In essence, a friend who too is a fellow, “recovery warrior” like you. These people can offer guidance, compassion, empathy, and encouragement.

The advisors (the light leaders):

One friend I met in treatment always brightened my day. This friend soon became a light leader in my army of warriors. On the days there didn’t seem to be a light at the end of my tunnel, she gave me that light. She gave me hope and motivation by assuring me that one day I would be free. She is a wonderful warrior and we still keep in-touch to this very day. She was always slightly ahead of me in our recovery journeys, but this meant that she became my greatest advisor. She knew all the do's and don't, she was equipped with a pocketbook full of the most successful distractions, she would tell me all the best ways to go about conquering and cracking my addictions and she even helped me do them. This very friend helped me cut my walking down, and helped me throw away my 'fitness' wrist monitor as like I said she already knew that was a 'don't' in recovery before I did. She had the experience that all the best advisors have. She was a light leader. After leaving treatment, it was helpful to meet up with her and hear that she’d been finding post-treatment life difficult as well but that she still hadn't lost her light or her ability to shine some light in my direction.

The blacksmiths (amour makers):

Blacksmith warriors are the friends that give you defiance. While light leaders gift you with hope and motivation blacksmiths gift you with strength, power and protection. They build you armour and strap it tightly on you. The light leaders guild you into battle and they shine the way through the battlegrounds, but the blacksmiths are the reason why you continue following that light. What good is hope if you are to beaten and bruised to follow it? Without the right gear, equipment and protection often hope falls short. Obviously the idea that your amour crafting warriors make and give you armour is a metaphor- these warriors are simply friends who are also suffering from an eating disorder like you. So in order to put this into boring real life form I will tell you about another one of my friends that I met at treatment. One day this friend brought in a present to treatment to give to me. It was a coffee cup that she had made herself at a pottery class as one of our recommended ways of 'distraction with the sitting'... we often tried to make our distractions as active as possible out of anorexic habits... well that's until light leaders told us it was a waste of time. This cup she had given to me she had painted a pastel green, she knew I loved the colour green and then in black she had very badly painted (don't tell her this) the words 'beat the bitch' with red speckled dots surround the word 'bitch' which she later explained to me was meant to look like blood. We had a good giggle over this cup but on a serious level it has helped so much. It helped me make breakfast easier and more enjoyable, I looked forward to pouring my earl grey tea in the morning with my bircher muesli while I smirked and chuckled at her cup she made me. Sipping my hot tea in the morning would fill me with warmth, not just from the kettled water but because I felt a connection to my friend- and that gave me a feeling of unity and defiance. That cup soon became my armour I wore it to every breakfast in my recovery, and at every breakfast I won. My light leaders helped me pour my breakfast and my amour makers protected me through it.

The Queens guards (the diamond chain breakers):

Everyone knows diamonds can't be broken. Everyone knows diamonds can be cut, smashed, crushed, shattered, hacked, sawed or destroyed. Everyone knows that there is only one way to take down a diamond... and that's with another diamond itself. Genius- all you have to do is rub two of your diamond chains together until one of them breaks the other! Nope, you can try but that shadow is too wise for that trick, that shadow knows all the games. Well, actually all the games but one: teamwork. That shadow knows nothing about teamwork. It’s the little things we can do for one another that will make things that bit easier. Everyone with an eating disorder is in the same dilemma as you, I say dilemma but I mean nightmare. This means that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of warriors all chained up like puppets being manipulated by diamond chains. Of course the shadow will notice your plans to snap your own diamond chains but perhaps they won't suspect a whole army of chained puppets to break one another's chains. The importance of having warrior friends are endless, however this one may be the most important one to remember. How do these diamond chain breakers behold themselves... well that's the best part, as they don't even need to do it visually. Teamwork isn't a visual thing, it is a feeling of connection like invisible glue uniting us as one tough ED busting army. We don't have to feel alone in our struggle, we can all do it and the way we will do it is together. The only way we can break our diamond chains is by breaking another's in the act.

How to be a warrior in other people's armies:

Have a mindset of a Queen but a heart of a warrior... this way you can repay the favour. You can keep demand of your mental kingdom and become a warrior to others trying to take back their own. Be both the Queen of your mind and the warrior of your friends' battles. So what will you be to them? An armour maker, a diamond chain breaker or a light leader?

Photography By: Rebecca Alison

Photography By: Rebecca Alison