Happy Saturday y’all!
So here I go! I am really excited about the creation of this blog. This past year, the idea lingered in my mind. The idea became cemented in my mind when various strangers asked in our random conversations, if I had a blog.
It was humbling to know that these random strangers were interested in my thoughts, strategies, and overall perspective. Interested to get back into writing, I finally created this blog. It will be a therapeutic and creative outlet, which transitions nicely to the main topic of this post.
Let me bring you up to speed…
Writing about my past is a bit terrifying for me. I have only discussed it in public once, when I was a guest speaker at a luncheon. After the luncheon, I was approached by several guests. I received such a positive and supportive responses. It felt wonderful, but most importantly, I felt incredibly liberated.
So, in this post, I hope that I can break off a few more lingering shackles, break completely free, and hopefully help someone out there struggling. Eating disorders are isolating in nature. If you struggle with an eating disorder, know that you are NOT alone in your struggles and the road to recovery is REAL.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.” Simply put, the smallest step and biggest step of my life was AWARENESS.
I remember the moment clearly. I literally looked in the bathroom mirror with a tear-stained face, and I saw my life for what it was–an eating disorder prison. And through the bars of my prison cell, I only saw hell.
And at this moment, I immediately knew that I needed professional help, ASAP. I was freshman in college at the time, and completely lost in the rabbit-hole. Thankfully, this moment took place close to the end of the semester. So, I finished up the semester with my all-time worst grades ever: A, B, B+, C+, C+. For some, these grades would be more than acceptable. For me, it was a huge disappointment, and confirmation that my eating disorder robbed my concentration was going to swallow me whole.
At the end of the semester, I found an amazing treatment program with compassionate professionals that became like a surrogate family to me. In retrospect, my proactive and personal decision to seek help made a huge difference in my recovery.
In the initial group therapy, I quickly realized that I was surrounded by young women who were forced to treatment by their family members. They did not want it for themselves, and they were not ready to let go. Because of this, I left the intensive outpatient program, and proceeded with one-to-one outpatient interventions.
Recovery was a treacherous journey, filled with many doubts. Still, my proactive search for professional help made a huge difference for me. I was fully aware that I was not living life. In fact, it felt like I was dying. It felt like a prolonged and slow suicide. Although not knowing what an ED-free life would be like, I believed in my heart anything had to be better.
My eating disorder was a manifestation of beliefs and thoughts about myself that cultivated since a very young age. Essentially, I was trying to break free from all I had ever known and believed–my own distorted reality. Although terrifying, recovery was also like mysterious oasis that I wanted to experience. And for that reason, I found it to be very toxic to engage with other young women who did not want help.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always want recovery 100% of the time. Once in recovery, I often used the word “bittersweet” to describe my feelings toward my eating disorder behaviors.
For years I wrestled with fully letting go of my eating disorder. I often found that I would let go, but kept it in my back pocket, just in case. I perceived my eating disorder as an emergency exit out of stressful and chaotic situations or feelings. This is something I still wrestle with today. Only today, I leave it as a thought, and nothing else. I see it for what it is, and I look to another emergency exit, in the direction of self-care, self-love, and holistic wellness.
I worked with my treatment family for exactly five years. It was a tough but ultimately rewarding journey. In those five years, there were a few times that I relapsed to the point of completely giving up. I attempted to terminate treatment less than a handful of times. I was blessed to have professionals who could reel me back into recovery. They operated and supported me in a way that my family could not. In conjunction with my biological family, with supportive intentions to learn and help, my support system made all the difference for me.
Today, I measure myself in strength and smiles. Not pounds.
To be continued…