Early Recovery Experience
When Jodie asked me to write a blog my first reaction was "do not be ridiculous, I am not recovered enough/it won't be good enough"– all the default negative self-talk rose straight to the surface, one of the very issues that kept me stuck in depression and an eating disorder for years. (Jodie and I have traced the first signs of my ED back to when I was 11 years old, and I am now 25). However, having said this, this is both challenging and essential for me to write in order to diminish shame and to give hope to anyone struggling that it does get easier. With Jodie’s (or other eating disorder specialist's) help, I am beginning to see a real light at the end of the tunnel.
I went into primary treatment at the end of 2019 as a very last resort, following months of refusing to accept the need for an inpatient option. My eating disorder wasn’t the worst it had historically been but mentally I had hit what I can only describe as 'rock bottom'. It scared me so much that there wasn’t really any other option. From what I remember the most crippling obstacle then was the shame of my mental state, my lack of coping mechanisms, the isolation, the secrecy and feeling like a complete failure. Accepting that I needed to prioritise recovery and get proper help was the biggest challenge.
It has been without a doubt the most exhausting, difficult, painful and exposing journey however I am learning more about myself than I could have ever learned before.
Treatment for me was really to learn the basics, to learn about not only the psychological but the physiological strain of having an eating disorder. It gave me an opportunity to learn and understand this thing that had tarnished every single aspect of my life – I actually use the analogy of spilled ink. It spreads so far and quickly and only spreads further when you try to blot it out. I am beginning to incorporate the spilled ink into the bigger picture of my life, as it will always be a part of me and unfortunately, will always be just around the corner if ever I do not use the tools I have learned and practise them. The most empowering thing I learned quite quickly with regards to this eating disorder (I had never said these words aloud until a week into treatment), was that it actually has nothing to do with food. It is a coping mechanism that has actually been incredibly beneficial to me for years to cope with some traumatic experiences and countless bouts of crippling depression – I just didn’t want it anymore.
It was after treatment that I met Jodie. I had had quite a few therapists by this point and was anxious to have to build another relationship. I cannot tell you how much Jodie has supported me, I feel like we clicked straight away and she really tells me how it is (which is most often not what I want to hear). Some of the things that have helped me personally in the past months are: therapy groups, ABA Fellowship, writing exercises/journals, meal plans, mood and food diaries (dietician), checking in, surrounding myself with people that love and care about me. As Jodie has taught me: if it fits, wear it.
This is a very short-winded round up of my recovery thus far, but I do hope for anyone reading this that finds themselves in the utter turmoil, fear and bewilderment that I so identify with, I assure you that if you put your faith in those who know, this will get easier. I still struggle with the idea that the first 5 years are considered early recovery, and I have hard days all the time. But I know that nothing will ever be as bad if I just do my best and use the tools I have learned. I am always amazed that when I take a risk and share, it is met with nothing but love and support. Mental illness is an incredibly lonely place, but you will recover and life will be lighter every day.