For the past 5 months I have been quiet about my 21 days in treatment for my eating disorder. I haven’t written about them, let alone spoken about them. Every single day for the last 5 months, my former eating disorder has been on my mind one way or another. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. In my early recovery days, I was in constant survival mode, but in the last while, I’ve been focusing on making sure I stayed recovered. Eating disorder recovery is not comfortable. I learned this in treatment. Eating disorders become lifelong recoveries.
Learning to eat again was hard. Something so natural had become my enemy. There were times I refused to eat and I received the disappointing addresses from the staff and the counselor. I felt like a child.
Eating disorder triggers can come from anywhere, particularly in my case stress. When that trigger finds you, you may end up alone, as I sometimes am. But as I have progressed in my recovery I have grown stronger, those times I have found myself reflecting alone were because I was thankful I made it through without giving into relapse.
Listening to the voice in your mind is entirely optional but it takes time to realize that! I know my former eating disorder is lying when it tries to creep back into my thoughts; I know it’s playing tricks on me, and I know it’s not real. Perhaps all of us who are recovering from an eating disorder know this on some level, yet we decide to play into what I call the ‘insanity’ of it sometimes. Once you can conquer your eating disorder voice, you’ll see how much more simple life becomes. Your everyday choices, relationships become much more honest. This is because recovery means in part you know how to stand up for yourself against the bully in your mind.
Without thoughts of food, the need to control and restrict, and the low-esteem surrounding my and body and self-worth consuming me; I lost who I was. Then, with all the work I did in treatment and on my own, I realized I could be stronger than all of that negativity. Today, I am proud that I overcame my demons and become a survivor of an illness that kills. The rest? The fact that I’m a husband, a father, a son, a college graduate; all of that to a certain extent, doesn’t come close to that first title, and the people in my life who love me know it.
Above all you will learn to trust yourself. Going through an eating disorder is up there on the toughest things I have ever done. So now, when other events or people, which have nothing to do with recover, disappoint or shake my faith, I always have my experience as a pillar of strength. Having survived, I come back to the fact that not only is my resilient, but I’m also confident I will never experience pain or loss as profound as what my eating disorder took away from me. Once you can look at yourself in a mirror and know that you won the battle against yourself, there is no fear left to conquer. I don’t think anyone could ever make me feel the way the bully in my mind did; and from that, I know that no matter how bad it can get, every day has something worth living for.
Eating disorder recovery is a lifelong process. I’m making my way into it, now by ensuring that I stay recovered, and these truths are crucial to me in this process.