Demi Lovato shared an Instagram post this week reminding people that the journey of recovering from an eating disorder is often not quick or linear. And for some people, including her, it’s an ongoing journey along a winding path.
Lovato posted a video of a hand-painted ceramic mug bearing the phrase “I am worth it” and the logo for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). For Lovato, who is in recovery from bulimia, the personal item represents the continual nature of her healing process—and the importance of sticking with that hard work.
“This is the @neda symbol for eating disorder recovery,” Lovato wrote in the caption. “I painted this at @colormemine years ago…even though I was in the throes of my eating disorder, I still made this in hopes that I would truly believe it someday.”
The singer, who has previously spoken about her experiences with dieting, food shaming, and body image during her years-long recovery process, said that at this point she has hard days and better ones. “I still struggle. Daily. There are periods of time where I forget about my food struggles and other times it’s all I think about. Still,” Lovato wrote. “But that is what ED recovery looks like for some people and I still have hope that someday I won’t think about it anymore. For now, my mug reminds me that I am worth it, and today I believe it.”
“Thank you Demi for being open and honest about your ongoing struggle,” NEDA wrote in a comment on the post. “ED recovery is not linear and this post is an important reminder to take it one day at a time.”
As with many mental and behavioral health conditions, recovering from an eating disorder can be long, complex, and challenging, and everybody’s experience looks different. (Not to mention, the actual criteria for what it really means to be “in recovery” from an eating disorder are up for debate.)
Generally speaking, ED recovery often requires years of work, multiple forms of treatment, and professional and social support, NEDA explains. And since the process is not linear, the binary concept of being “recovered” versus “not recovered” isn’t necessarily helpful. It’s totally normal to have periods of feeling like you haven’t made progress or you’ve regressed while still being in recovery. “Slips, backslides, and relapse tend to be the rule, rather than the exception,” especially during times of stress, NEDA says. “Moving forward is key, however slow it might be.”