Hello blog readers! First of all, thank you so much for supporting me thus far and continuing to support me through this journey. As you might be able to tell from the title of this blog post, today marks my sixth month in recovery. It is crazy to think back at this whirlwind of an adventure (except adventures are supposed to be fun and this one is not what I would consider “fun”)
Six months ago I was not myself. I was a zombie. I was existing, not living. I drug my weak body around with me day after day with a brain that could not think and a heart that was struggling to beat. I isolated myself from people that I loved and cared about and I was fighting my own self. Now, I am getting ready to start my senior year of high school (that is so weird saying out loud). I am still struggling, but not as much. I am still fighting but instead I am fighting for my freedom instead of fighting my own self. I have met my best friends and become closer to people that were already in my life. I also distanced myself from “things” that did not need to be apart of my life, for example, umm… I don’t know, my eating disorder. That was a GREAT good-bye.
I figured this blog post should probably have a point to it and here it is. I have learned so many things by going through this process. Here are a FEW of the many things that I have learned and took to take to heart (or at least trying to) during my time in treatment.
#1 Life is too short to pick cheese off of your pizza.
This has a bigger analogy than it seems, but it is also very literal. Cheese is on a pizza for a reason because it is an incredibly delicious and necessary part of the pizza. Yes, I was scared of it so I just avoided it. But when I took my first bite without my rituals of dabbing and picking and ripping etc. It was the most delicious thing ever. SO, with that, sometimes the things we are afraid of and avoid, do us less harm when we finally accept it and let it into our lives. I thought that if I had eaten the cheese off of the pizza I would be weak, worthless, and fat. I had a fear and anxiety surrounding that. When I ate it though, it showed me that all of my fears, thoughts, and worries about the pizza were false. I had taken a leap, one that I did not want to take, and I was fine. I was 100% perfectly ok and that makes me happy to think about. The same goes for life. The things we avoid and are afraid can sometimes be good for us when we let them into our lives and we recognize how strong we truly are.
#2 (My) first impressions and assumptions are generally wrong
Some of you may know this but I make assumptions pretty quickly (about people, situations etc.) One of my best friends (shout out to KG) is a prime example of this. When I first met her in treatment I never in a million years thought we would become best friends and end up practically living with each other (sorry for taking over your house, KG). In my eating disorder, I was very closed off and did not give people many chances to show who they truly were. Another example is my math teacher in France, Doc A, pretty much one of the greatest human beings on the planet (along with his wife, Catherine) and without whom I don’t know if I would be alive today. When I first met Doc A, I was intimidated to say the least. I thought that he absolutely hated me and so therefore I started the process of shutting down and cutting off. I then came to realize that he and his wife would end up being the biggest support system I had in France and one of the main reasons I woke up in the morning and continued on with life. I never imagined that these two people who I judged at first would become some of the most influential and important characters in the story of my life.
#3 It is not self-centered or egotistical to love yourself
This is something that I have learned but I am still trying to implement into my life. I find it incredibly sad how society nowadays tells us that loving yourself, being proud of yourself, being confident in your body or who you are is selfish and egotistical. Well, it is not. It is actually a beautiful thing to see people who are proud of their talents, their assets, their intelligence… THEM. It is such a rare thing to see someone who is confident in who they are and that is not ok that it is so rare. It is not ok that it is less common for people to love themselves than to hate themselves. It is not ok that there are entire news articles dedicated to everything wrong with celebrities. It is not ok that human beings are constantly told they are never good enough. It is not ok that it is normal for people to rip themselves apart because that is what they are conditioned to believe. Am I currently practicing what I preach? Well, not really. But it doesn’t mean I’m not trying. It is not an easy thing for me to love myself after having spent years listening to a voice (ED) telling me that I am worthless and picked me apart until I could not stand it anymore. So ladies and gentlemen if you take away one sentence from this post, society is wrong, it is ok, AMAZING even, to love yourself and be confident in who you are. So go out and flaunt who you are. Post selfies, please be proud of your bomb contouring, please be proud of your 92% on a test even though it is not an A, please be proud of your uniqueness, please be proud of YOU, (after all, you are the only you on planet earth and that is pretty cool.)
#4 Treatment sucks but is also the greatest thing that has ever happened to me
I remember the day my doctor told me I had anorexia (whatever that meant). She recommended going to see someone to do intake for treatment. Ummm, excuse me, what? Treatment! I did not sign up for that, there was no way I could be sick enough for treatment. That word stung and I had no idea it was where I would be going for the next 5 months. I thought treatment was a couple weeks, talking about your feelings, eating a couple meals, and then boom, FIXED! I could not have been more wrong. It was a roller coaster, a constant up and down of emotions, thoughts, and events. It was not reality either. In residential I was not living, I only existed, kind of like in my eating disorder except now I had a purpose, to get better. I woke up and ate my meals, talked in therapy, gave the counselors the BS they wanted to hear, and went to bed. I was a robot and I went through my day like clockwork. After I left RTC, I dropped down to PHP (partial hospitalization) treatment. It was an amazing change. I met some of the greatest people I know. I met people who cared and listened. I had (and have!) the most amazing therapist one could ask for. I had a safe space where my eating disorder could not exist. I had people to go to when my eating disorder wanted to creep back into my mind. I still had the tears, the struggles, and the pain but I also had people to help me through all of that, for lack of a better word, crap. I look back to six months ago and I don’t remember exactly how I looked or felt but what I do remember is that I never want to go back. I know that because of treatment and because of people like LV, AD, AW, JS, KD I have been saved from many months more of pain, depression, and being victim to my eating disorder.
#5 Isolation sucks
I am a very outgoing person. I love people and I am even considered a social butterfly by a lot of my friends and family. If you had first met me during my eating disorder however, you never would have known that. I went to school, attended classes, and returned back to my host family’s home to hibernate in my room for the weekend. I did not go out, participate in group activities, or make many plans with people. Why did I do this? My eating disorder. It was safer for my eating disorder to be locked away in my room. There was no one there to debate my distorted thoughts, keep track of what I was eating (or lack there of), and my eating disorder could have complete control over me. It told me exactly to the second when I could eat. It told me how many sit ups I needed to do for the rice cake I would eat at exactly 3 PM and could not finish until 3:30 PM. It was just ED and me. I was closed off from the outside world but never felt lonely because I always had Ed by my side. So in simple terms, isolation sucks. The way the eating disorder manipulates the brain into thinking that being alone and in solitude is the best thing for you, sucks. I learned that I really like my outgoing side of me and I never want my eating disorder to ever take that away (any piece of motivation counts J )
#6 I don’t NEED my eating disorder
One of my biggest struggles with entering treatment is that I did not want to let my eating disorder go. ED had been apart of my life for so long and letting him go felt like a failure and felt like losing my best friend. I thought I needed ED in my life when in reality I just didn’t want to let it go. My eating disorder sucked the life out of me, made me feel weak, inadequate, and worthless. It took everything I loved about myself and ripped it up. Yet, I still loved ED. It gave me the body I thought I wanted. It gave me discipline, control, a coping skill for difficult times, and it made me (artificially) unique. Over the past six months and with the help of treatment I realized everything that my eating disorder did to me. I realized everything that my eating disorder did to my family and friends, the people that mattered most to me. I don’t need that pain or negativity anymore. I don’t the self-hate anymore. I don’t need the depression and anxiety. I just need me, without my eating disorder. I don’t need my eating disorder in order to be good. I don’t need my eating disorder in order to be liked or appreciated or cared for. My eating disorder did not give me anything desirable. I romanticized my life with anorexia while I was in it but now looking back I see all the damage that it did. I don’t need my ED in order to succeed, I don’t need to change myself to be loved by others. All I need is me and that should be good enough.
This is not all that I learned in treatment (that would be an entire book), but these are some important things that really mean a lot to me and I felt might be able to resonate with some people. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been there for me at some point during this six month journey. I could not have done it without you all and I would not be where I am today without them.
Doc A and Catherine – 2 people who literally saved my life in France and in treatment. 2 people who encouraged me and prayed for me daily and never gave up hope. I don’t know what I would have done without you
The treatment team – who continues to care, love, and support me. All my love to The BV.
KG, JD, JF, IT, EM, GV, BNC, BV – the girls whom I could not live without. Love to you all!
Nico – the girl who has the greatest stories and the funniest things to say. You never fail to make me laugh. LUHH YOU
Haley – Bling 2, the girl who visited me during my worst times and managed to make it the best of times. I love you to the moon and back.
Cooper – a woman’s best friend, my best friend. Even though you can’t talk you always listen.
Kena and GB – making me laugh in treatment is the greatest gift you could give someone, thank you so much. Love you girlies XOXO
Young Life (and everyone apart of the program) – a break from reality and a sense of freedom from my eating disorder. Thank you for giving me a gift so incredibly rare.
My SYA Family – the ones who were there during the worst of it but still laughed at my jokes and worked with me through my difficulties. Vous me manquez!
Dieds – Ma prof et mon amie. Je ne pouvais pas vivre sans toi!
Tina – the one who brings out the best side of me. Thank you for supporting my creativity, dreams, and making them all come true.
And of course, my family – the people that are there for me through thick and thin, who never leave my side, and who support me even on the ups and downs that life throws at all of us.