Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our Own Path

I have a couple of friends right now who are very sick in their eating disorders.  In fact, I think they are both in the hospital right now, or the psych ward.  I wouldn't know because when someone is very sick in their ED, I pull back a little.  Not because I am a crappy friend, but because to keep me okay, I need to back off.  Doesn't mean I don't love them, just means I need to take care of myself first.

But...I've been thinking.  What has made the difference for me to finally recover?  And why can't they do it?  If I was labelled a chronic anorexic, a "lifer," and I finally was able to get to a healthy weight and maintain it, and start to work on the crap behind the eating disorder, and finally want it, why can't they?  It makes me wonder when their a-ha! moment will happen that will help them discover the happiness and joy and relief that I am experiencing.

I used to be very sick.  And I was an obstinate brat on top of it.  I didn't want to get better.  In fact, the very first time I was in treatment at 17, I'm ashamed to say this, but the whole time I was stuck in treatment and hating it all, I was planning all along to get out and lose weight.  I faked what I needed to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, and then I promptly got really sick once I was discharged.  Out of treatment the second time, I did a little better.  But not much.  And then the third time out of treatment, hell, I left the dang treatment center weighing nearly 20 lbs less than I should have, so recovery was screwed for me from the very beginning.

But then, doing outpatient with my current therapist and dietician, something finally clicked, and I did it.  So, what was it?  My new treatment team?  Me?  Somehow wanting to change and finally be well?

I will admit that sometimes I get frustrated with people I know with eating disorders who are chronically sick, who can never be stable, but then I feel so bad, because I think, I used to be that girl.  And I'm so glad I'm not anymore.  And I remind myself that I need to be patient with them, because everyone has their own journey, and the paths we find to recovery are all different.  Some have a straight and fairly short path to recovery.  I had quite a long path, with lots of switchbacks and hills, and it wasn't easy going.  And some people have it even harder than I do.  I need to remember this.

I just wish I could somehow make all those I know who suffer be happy and want recovery enough that they actually commit to being healthy and doing what they need to do to get well, whether that be weight gain or stopping purging or insert ineffective eating disorder behavior here.  Because for me, it's not like I still don't wish I was thin(ner) or restricting.  I still have those thoughts and temptations.  The difference is, I have finally chosen to not participate in those thoughts and turn them into actions.  Because recovery doesn't mean you are suddenly happy and hunky dory, it just means you are learning new ways to cope with the crappy stuff.  It isn't easier - in fact, I'd argue it's harder - but it's absolutely worth it.  I wish I knew how to convey this to them.

I guess all I can do is pray for patience and for a way to help them.  And make sure I take care of myself in the process.  And hope that they can make it on their path, too.


Lindsay said...

I think it's in situations like this where we really realize what it means for us each to have our agency. No matter how much someone else wants something for us, we have to want it ourselves and choose it. It takes a lot of patience I think.

Anyway, I think you're amazing.

po said...

I think choosing to ignore ED thoughts is much harder than giving in to them, which is possibly why it is so hard to turn away. My own ED was mild in comparison and I have not engaged in ED behaviours for about 14 years, but I still have to fight thoughts when I gain weight and am no longer the thinnest in the room about being of no value now, because I am no good at anything so if I am not the thinnest in the room then I am nothing blah blah. I cope by swearing at myself, because it really makes no effing sense, right? There the other people are engaging in ideas and thoughts and plans and life and it does sound ridiculous to think that somehow not being the thinnest in the room is meaningful at all. I want to hide behind the old ways and not have to put myself out there where it is easy to feel devalued, but it is not worth it.I seem to respond well to the swearing :)

Stacy said...

Such a wise and insightful post. Recovery is harder, of course it is, better but harder. If it were easy more people would do it. ED is a hard thing. you are doing great.

bri said...

Brie huni I couldn't agree more. Although I am 100 percent I find it still hard to talk and be around people who are very sick as the temptations are still there its hard. I love u babe!

CIP Employment Team said...
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Emily Wallner said...

Indeed, we all have our own path. I have had ED in my life since I was ten. I still struggle daily. I have managed to do a lot of mental healing, and have not been at a crisis weight in 4 years or so. That doesn't matter. My body remains damaged from the years of starvation, overexercising, laxatives, binging and purging: heart damage, GI track damage, brittle bones, and my brain is not what it used to be. ED is still there, still in my brain, always lurking, and "she" still talks. Some days are louder than others. I still slip. I still falter. Once ED makes herself at home, she never leaves... she'll quiet down sometimes, and I'll do what I need to do, but she's always there haunting me.
They called me a lifer too. They said that lifetime'd be over by the time I hit 19... 20 if I was lucky. I'm 26 now. Still alive. I beat the odds with a shitload of help and a rare bit of hope. Every day is a fight to keep beating those same damn odds, and to live instead of fade away.

I'm glad you're alive. I'm glad you're beating the odds too.

Everything you wrote in this post is what I tried to say to you the day I stepped away. I failed at doing so with grace and elegance.

Laura said...

I have learned that you can not create "desire" in another person. For anything. A desire to eat...a desire to be happy...a desire to know God...a desire to be healthy...a desire to be a better mom...better friend...better wife...and it goes on and on.

What we each need is what you describe as that "ah-ha moment". That second where the light bulb goes on, and a whole new approach is taken. For some it is getting married...others becoming a mom...but for most, unfortunately, it is when they hit absolute rock bottom. It is that "on your knees praying...BEGGING...through tears and pain", that the decision is made. Do I want to live like this for another second? Or do I want to change?

That is when desire is formed.
In the heart.
And soul.

We all have the choice of heaven or hell.
And I don't mean when we die.
I mean right here..right now...on earth.
We have a choice.
We can live in hell, or we can live a beautiful, grateful life.

You have chosen a new path..
you finally desired it...
you knew what you had to lose, and you chose to hang on to it.
and it is awesome.

for our friends that still seem stuck...
that just don't desire it...
that feel they don't deserve better...
all we can do is pray.
Pray hard for them.
Pray that God instills in them the desire to be the best person they can be healthy..and to choose life.

Then keep on walking on your new path....