I get many questions from my friends and family members inquiring exactly what it is like to live with an eating disorder and then have to fight through recovery. In treatment we dedicate entire days to help our family members and other loved ones understand what it is like to live with an eating disorder and what exactly goes through the mind 24/7. So I guess I could give you a quick “run down” on what it is like.
I am a morning person, always have been, always will be (I hope 🙂
I wake up each and every morning at 6 or 7 am and that is when the voices start. I only get peace when I am asleep, but it has been getting a lot easier through treatment. I fight to access my rational mind through my breakfast preparation and then as I eat the food I just put together. I use the wondrous coping skills of Netflix (currently watching Hawaii 5-0, highly suggested or even more highly suggested… Scandal!!!) I take my puppy Cooper for a walk and then come back for miscellaneous activities such as journaling, knitting, writing for this blog, catching up on school work, looking for a summer job etc (see, I am kind of just like a normal teenager!) and then it is off to treatment!
I am currently in PHP (but soon to be moving to IOP!) which means 7 hours a day 6 days a week of treatment (at least it’s not residential). Each day we have miscellaneous groups such as CBT, Process, Body Image/Mindfulness, Discharge Planning, Yoga, and so much more! I try so hard to listen to each and every word the therapists say during the groups but it is so hard when there is this voice in my head screaming at me, forcing me to think about my next meal or what food I will be eating and when. I don’t want to think this way, it is just that I don’t know how to stop these thoughts. For those of you who understand what this constant waking to sleeping struggle is like also understand just how draining this process is. Even if I am eating, or I am weight restored, or I am not having behaviors, I am still having those thoughts (as of right now, I am working to get them to go away). Eating disorders don’t go away just like that. It takes time and it takes healing. Recovery is a powerful, overwhelming, painful yet beautiful process, that is why I go to treatment each and every day. That is why I wanted to create this blog. I am hoping it will help me process certain ideas, talk about a rough day, but also reach out to others that are struggling too.
Back to my day… before I entered treatment, my day was spent in my room; shakily counting calories, planning my next workout, panicking and feeling guilty about how much I ate or how much I will be eating. Now, I laugh as I prep my lunch, play games as I eat my dinner, and head into the next group with few feelings of guilt or anxiety (usually). I used to cry everyday because I had eaten or because I had failed my eating disorder, but I cry now because all I want is for it to be gone. I talk with many of my friends that I met in treatment (there will be a post about all of these amazing people later) and just the pure frustration that the eating disorder instills. It is honestly just so frustrating and infuriating to live with an eating disorder. Like I said previously, my mind is always focused on my biggest fear. Imagine being arachnophobic and having to be surrounded by spiders 24/7. My eating disorder is scared of food and I must be surrounded by it 24/7 for my health, that is so incredibly frustrating. During any sort of down time I frantically search for a coping skill to occupy my time. I have filled up 200 pages worth of journal, watched 11 seasons of 4 different shows, 21 movies, driven to the beach just because, cleaned my whole house at least 5 times, and cooked probably more than a professional chef does, all to take my mind off of my fear.
As I go through each day of treatment, I recognize each day is different. There are many days where I am the most confident person on the planet and it is as if I don’t even have my eating disorder but there are many others where I feel as if my eating disorder is my identity and will be for the rest of my life or that it will be just me and Ed forever… BUT it won’t. It can’t be. I had a life once with no eating disorder and I will get back to that point again with the help of the amazing people in my life. Recovery isn’t all bad or all tears. I have met some of the most amazing, kind, and beautiful people and I thank God for them each and every day. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I am thankful for recovery and this process even though it is a long and tiring one.
Love to all!
For my loves,
JD, JF, CL, KG, RC, EM, IT, GV
“Surround yourself with people who get it”