Get involved Eating Disorders Awareness Week Josie Larder I just wanted to encourage others that recovery is SO possible! And worth it! "When I saw that First Steps was doing the #MeWithoutED campaign, something deeply resonated with me and I felt like it was time to share my story. I cannot thank First Steps enough for their support in my recovery journey. However, mine is a little different. I wasn't a service user with First Steps but a staff member. When I arrived in 2013 as a Support Worker, I was already well into my recovery, but now looking back, in reflection, it is so clear how working with First Steps empowered me to be in the place I am today. Working at First Steps provided a safe place for me to continually learn about my eating disorder behaviours and take even more steps into living a life free from the ED that had held me captive for so long. First Steps gave me opportunities to learn new skills, explore my own passions and abilities, without being restricted to the identity of an "anorexic." I was a sufferer of anorexia nervosa from age 11- 19. This consisted of 4 long inpatient stays and constant outpatient support when living in the community. I lost friendships, had broken family relationships and my academic ability was really affected. My weight reached shocking levels and I had lost any hope for a future. I think the main point I want to touch on is that I was told I would never be able to have children. At that age (16) those words didn't really hit too hard, as I didn't have hope that I would ever reach an age that I would even consider raising a family. However, fast forward, and after years of treatment and tears, I gradually began to make some steps forward. In May 2009 I was discharged from an inpatient stay for the very final time. It had taken a lot of hard work and resilience but what made it different is that it also involved laughter and joy as I became to get a glimpse of hope again. In 2010, I left home and moved to Derby for University, with a new gratitude for life. I could never have believed that I would be walking into a University, away from home and being trusted to care for myself. As the years rolled on, I managed to maintain my recovery. I think this was because each day I was getting more of a taste of what life could offer without my eating disorder. Of course, there were still ups and downs, and I had to take risks, but risks provided me with growth. I realised that Life gave me friendships, community, fun and family. Whilst Anorexia gave me isolation, fear, sickness, irritably and emptiness. I knew what I wanted to choose now. Life. And I had to choose life again and again, every day, to stop me falling back into old habits. In 2010, I met my husband and we married in 2012. I had told him that I wasn't able to have children, but we chose to not live in fear and just take life day by day. In 2015, we unbelievably had our first baby boy, quickly followed by our second in 2018. I believe this was due to a healthy mind, which enabled me to maintain a healthy body. I am so thankful for the people around me who helped maintain my recovery and keep cheering me on. I am not denying that it has been hard, but the joy that recovery brings makes those hard days disappear into long lost memories. This year marks 10 years in recovery for me. 10 years of no professional support needed. I have now been in recovery for longer than I was sick. Amazingly, I have 2 healthy boys and thank God every day for the grace he has shown me. I now cannot recognise the terrified, isolated, angry, anorexic girl I once was. I am now a mother, a wife, a friend.. a Woman. I am #MeWithoutED. And now, that is the way it will always be.