I’ve been drafting this post for a few days now, and I was ready for it to be a Debbie Downer; I figured it was time I just open up about the lowest points and the toughest struggles. I returned to work this week, which was quite difficult, and I received my tentative discharge date, which spiked my anxiety and lowered my self-confidence. And then today happened.
A switch flipped.
Today, I suddenly feel ready to battle my eating disorder. My therapist has helped me put on my boxing gloves and pushed me into the center of the ring, and I’m ready to take the first swing. I am a fucking warrior princess.
Earlier today I met a friend for coffee who discharged from program a couple of weeks ago. We discussed life after treatment, and what recovery looks like. I ended up disclosing to her one of the largest obstacles between me and recovery: lying. Dishonesty is what drives eating disorders. They live in the shadows of secrecy and deception. My honesty has been slowly improving in the last few weeks, but suddenly I was ready to kill the lies that have been stopping me from achieving progress in recovery. I’m tired of fighting this fight. And yet, somehow, I found the energy to stand back up and do what I need to do to live. You can’t live if you never eat.
In the last few weeks I’ve come to recognize that the darkness doesn’t completely go away. The urges never fade. Today I was triggered and sat with self harm urges all day. I’m still sitting with them. But I realized it’s what you do with those urges that shows progress and recovery. Today marks 41 days with no self harm. Forty. One. Mother. F*cking. Days. Tomorrow it will be 42. It’s time I start marking down days with no ED behaviors.
The world is going to be triggering. Diet culture exists. There are folks who are uneducated about self harm and eating disorders and depression and God knows what else. And that doesn’t mean I have to act on the urges that arise because of these triggers.
I’ve come a long frickin’ way since I started treatment. I remember my first month thinking, “I don’t need to be here, I’m different from all of these other patients. There’s no way they can relate to me.” I shake my head at the person who thought that. Now, the friends I’ve made in treatment are some of my best, and they understand me like no one else does. Just like I understand them.
A dear friend of mine discharged from program today and got to process about her time in treatment. She talked about her ups and downs and her feeling of freedom from her ED. Suddenly I found myself crying at her words- the first time I had ever cried in a process group in program.* I’m not one to cry in front of others. In fact, until today I was convinced I couldn’t. But the floodgates opened as I realized that I have the power to conquer this disorder. I have the opportunity to feel freedom, just like my friend.
I cried because I was relieved. I cried because I was overwhelmed. I cried because I’m ready. I cried because I’m so scared.
I’m absolutely terrified of what recovery means. But I’m ready to be afraid. To take the leap anyway, because my future depends on it.
I feel so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a small army of warriors every day. The friends I have made in treatment have cheered for me at my worst and celebrated with me at my best. Much of my strength comes from them. I was so incredibly fortunate to have had this revelation with them today. To know that as scared as I am to take the first swing at my disorder, they are behind me to back me up and root for me.
Recovery. It’s happening. Look out, Eating Disorder. Your ass is about to get kicked.
*While writing this post I realized that I am roughly half as energized and motivated as I was earlier today. And yet, I’m still energized and motivated. Just to give you a sense of how intense this day was for me.