Where I've Been This Week
For those of you following me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I wasn't taking part in my usual programming this week. I worked on Monday at the learning centre, but spent Tuesday to Friday taking care of something important: my health.
This past week, I started an Intensive Outpatient Treatment, or Day Program, to get more support in my recovery.
Recovery remains a constant goal of mine. You might have read my blog post a couple of weeks ago where I decided to seek the help of a trusted dietitian in order to regularize my eating habits and... (gasp)... gain some weight back.
I really tried to "let go" of my food rules and follow the meal plan provided by my dietitian, but week after week I was becoming frustrated by my lack of ability to reach the goals we would set during our Skype sessions.
I felt that whenever I would take one step forward in my recovery, the eating disorder would come back full force and cause me to take two steps backwards, which was exhausting and overwhelming. I was trying to surround myself with positive influences in my life and busy myself with work, but despite my good intentions, my efforts weren't enough to keep my eating disorder at bay.
I didn't tell many people I was starting a Day Program this week. There is absolutely nothing shameful about seeking treatment, but I do admit to judging myself for going back. Having to reduce my hours at work gave me a lot of anxiety because I knew that in doing so, I would be creating a huge inconvenience for my co-workers. I didn't share the news with most of my friends and family because quite honestly, I felt that my story was getting repetitive. Having to tell them that I was putting a pause on things to get more support was something they have all heard numerous times before, and because I was criticizing myself, I kind of felt that others might, too.
My fear is to be known solely as the girl with anorexia. I am very open about my struggles because anorexia plays (and has played) a big part in my life, but I don't want "eating disorder" to be the first thing people think of when they think of me. So I kept the whole situation about seeking treatment "hush hush".
This week has been rough. My anxiety has been pretty reasonable this past year, but throw me into a setting where my eating disorder is "threatened" by food and weight gain, and anxiety increases tenfold. I didn't speak to anyone during the first couple days of the program because my anxiety was so high that I dissociated from what was going on around me. I don't even really remember the group discussions or even the names of the other patients.
To date, I haven't been doing treatment flawlessly. There is a lot of hesitation on my part to let go of my eating disorder thoughts and commit 100% to recovery. (It should be noted that the hesitation comes from the eating disorder, and also due to the hopelessness I feel due to past failures). But, I HAVE made progress in the last week. I increased my food intake and I challenged food rules and behaviours. (And, I showed up every day, despite wanting to shrug off treatment and stay home!). My whole attitude going into Day Program is to take it one day at a time. Each day is sure to be challenging, so there is no point stressing beforehand. Moment by moment.
I wouldn't say that I have "relapsed" because to be honest, I was never "recovered" to begin with. Eating disorder recovery, for me, is a long journey. I haven't quite "made it" yet, but I learn something new about myself and about my illness (and how to better manage it) with each passing year. I am aiming for full recovery, although I am realistic in thinking that full recovery is not going to happen any time soon. That's not me being pessimistic - I just recognize that first I have to manage my eating disorder, and manage it for a consistent and uninterrupted period of time, before I will fully be able to work myself up to full recovery.
So, there you have it. That's where I was last week (and where I will be next week). If I didn't share "the news" with you, it's not because I don't value our relationship. I was dealing with a lot both in terms of starting treatment but also in terms of how I judge myself as a person, and I isolated myself a little bit.
Going into this week, I will continue to take it all one day at a time. Each time I seek treatment I am a different person, so I am trying to remind myself that just because things haven't "worked" before, there is no guarantee that I won't be successful this time, either. You never know when things will click.
Let's fight on.