Day 2 - What have you done to help yourself with your addiction/disorder?
When I first began the recovery process, I didn’t do much to help myself. My family kept me under close watch: they had me adhere to hospital meal plans, eat in front of a witness, attend weekly therapy and nutritionist appointments, no going to the bathroom after meals, no going into public bathrooms alone.. it was a lot, and I really resented it at the time.
I felt as smothered and controlled as I did in the hospital, and didn’t understand why things weren’t glowing and happy like all the nurses and social workers promised recovery would be like. I wasn’t feeling any more confident – not after gaining twenty pounds in two months – and even worse, no one seemed to trust me. The transition between treatment and “the real world” was a frustrating and difficult one, and I became disenchanted with the whole idea of recovery.
But now – things have moved forward. It’s been two years since my discharge from the hospital, and in that time I’ve relearned things, like how not to have a panic attack at a restaurant and that scales are for fish, not for people. There are no easy lessons in recovery, nothing spelled out for you or presented on a silver platter. In the words of my beloved RuPaul:
So what have I done to help myself?
- Writing. I have always relied on writing to keep me sane (as sane as I can be, anyway). It’s a cathartic release, a transferal of all your swirling emotions onto paper. When I was in treatment, I wrote every. single. day. This blog has become somewhat of an extension of that; it’s forced me to be honest about myself and my behaviors. You all keep me accountable for my recovery process, and for that I’m soo so grateful. If writing is something you enjoy, I suggest making an effort to do it more often. Journal, blog, write on scraps of paper – whatever! Just get it all out where you can see it.
- Eating with others. It’s hard to get away with ED behaviors when you’re around other people. If I feel like I’m struggling or slipping, I make an effort to be around others, especially for meals. Most of my friends know what’s going on, so they can tell if something is up. (Sometimes, I’m too depressed to be able to leave my apartment. If that happens, I invite a friend over. Or I sleep, hah.)
- Accepting help. Granted, when I was first put into treatment I was kicking and screaming. I was pulled out of school during my freshman year of college and admitted into treatment back home in Baltimore, and not one of those resorty, homey types of treatment centers – I was on a hospital psych ward. Think Girl, Interrupted. It was both the most difficult yet most life-saving period of my life, and overall I’m glad that I accepted the help. After discharge, I had therapy, nutrition, and weigh-in appointments every week for about a year and a half, and now I only have therapy. It can be draining at times, but I know that it’s necessary for my recovery.
- Letting go of expectations. This is the hardest one, and I admittedly don’t do this very often. I have terrible anxiety – both general and social – so it’s hard for me to relax. When I do, though, it’s the most freeing and empowering thing. I get this moment of clarity where I ask myself: “Why am I so preoccupied with how others perceive me, or what I perceive their expectations of me to be?” I mean, it’s really dumb how wrapped up one can get in these things. Dumb and unproductive. I’m making a conscious effort to practice letting go of these preconceived expectations and instead doing what’s healthy and right for me.