What Recovery Taught Me – by a patient

By September 14, 2016 Blog No Comments

What Recovery Taught Me

My eating disorder was my best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. For over two years I went through the vicious cycle that so many other had gone through before me. Binge, purge, starve, exercise, repeat.  For two years I put my mind and body through this harm and neglect, knowing that it was wrong but not being able to stop. I thought I was in control, that I could stop the cycle whenever I wanted to but I was so wrong.  It was not until one morning that I woke up and thought “I would rather never wake up than have to eat today” that I knew I was in way over my head and needed help. I had become addicted to my bulimia, and admitting to myself that I was not strong enough to fight my addiction made me feel weak and helpless. I felt that I just become another girl with body issues, another number added to statistics, that maybe I was making bigger deal out of it than was really necessary. It wasn’t until I was in my first group session, my first week in IOP, surrounded by half a dozen other women absolutely balling my eyes out that I knew I was where I needed to be.

Eating disorders are like onions, you have to peel back the outer layers to get to the real stuff. My eating disorder was my outer layer, it was my protective layer that made me secure and helpless all at the same time. After my first few weeks in IOP I slowly started to peel back my layers and discovered that my eating disorder was just a blanket that I was using to hide all of my other problems. As I started to address all of these other insecurities it became apparent to me that I did not need to use my eating disorder as my security blanket anymore. I was able to be more raw and vulnerable with people than I had even been in my entire life, the weight of shame and guilt was slowly lifted off my shoulder and I was able to rebuild myself.

The path was not easy and I can admit I had a few setbacks, those first weeks of having to eat a whole meal around other people was torture, crying and admitting I was struggling was challenging, not going to gym and keeping food down was very mentally demanding but I persevered through the pain, through the sadness and came out the other end of it a restored woman. It took nine months of serious self-discovery but I know that going into treatment saved my life and it taught me a few things along the way.

I learned…

being ashamed of my mental illness weighed me down but embracing and learning from it allowed me to grow

being self-sufficient is good, but asking for help does not make me weak

my experiences and my eating disorder were unique and that I was not just another number

people’s words and actions are a reflection on them, not on me

recovery is scary, but staying the same is scarier

I did not need to punish my body for wanting food by going to the gym for hours and starving myself for days’ straight

how to be proud of my body for all the amazing things that it is able to do

I could eat that piece of cake without having a total breakdown

being at peace with my body is the most freeing feeling in the world

recovery is scary, but staying the same is scarier

in a culture that is always preaching perfection, I AM ENOUGH