Having lived in both hemispheres I have been exposed to all versions of ‘recovered’ in the eating disorder world.
In medical terms there is criteria for a broken bone and criteria for a healed bone. There is criteria for being diagnosed with cancer and criteria for remission.
When it comes to eating disorders, there is no standard criteria that is agreed upon in order to define recovery.
As you step into recovery, your body may change...and your beliefs, behaviours, biases and values will go through a software update as well, because these are the things that got you into an eating disorder in the first place.
Having an eating disorder is more than a full-time job, it becomes a lifestyle and a way of being. I don’t need to tell you that going to a party is analogous to being put in a washing machine. A cacophony of thoughts, all competing for your attention order you to eat this and not that. Another sector will run the bargaining campaign, if you don’t eat this you may eat that. A third part of the chorus will conduct a running commentary on how you look and who is watching you, all while keeping a black book of ‘social blunders’ it can use to beat you up later.
Never going back means exactly what it sounds like. The distinction, however, is that never going back is a choice. As someone that is recovered, I do not fear falling into eating disordered behaviours or thought patterns. I do not fear that I will be blindsided or tempted or swayed. The thing about knowing is you cannot unknow it.