Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recovery Week Day 6: Reach Out

Hey everyone--
First off this topic is near and dear to my heart because I've used it TONS the past two days to get back on track. And I have some good news to report. I have been home where I always slip for the past two days....but these two days have been different. I have had real desserts (well, real to me) the past two nights, have avoided the scale (NEVER done that before), have kept my meal plan, and haven't overexercised (once again, never done before). And you know what....I don't feel guilty like ED said I would. I feel happy, I feel hope, I feel peace, I FEEL FREE! I can't describe what its been like just being with my family getting ready for the holidays....not thinking about food (granted this screwed up my timing a bit but oh well). Let me just tell you all, THIS IS SO WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

Alright, so to the topic. Basically it's something I have tried so many times to do without in recovery, reaching out for help from others. But in the past few months I have started to do it...and let me say it's the hardest and most healing thing to do. It almost takes the pressure off of your shoulders and spreads it to others. Now I have found for me reaching out comes in four forms: the team, recovery partners, non-ED friends, and family. So let's take a little look.

The Team
I went into details of the team here. Reaching out to them takes the form of honesty about your troubles. Taking that step, that hard yet crucial step, of admitting everything you are doing....triumphs and trials and your feeling around is you reaching out. In return your team reaches back. They reach back to you by giving you tips on how to get back on track and by being a constant support. So though it's scary, reach out and prepare to receive awesome (yet sometimes hard to hear) support.

Also, don't wait till your next appointment. If you are struggling reach out then and there. Every therapist or nutritionist (at least if they are a good one) will give you some way to contact them outside of appointments. They wouldn't give you these contacts if they didn't want you to use them. That's right WANT you to use them. The first time I reached out to my therapist when I was struggling I thought he was going to be mad and felt that way after too. Like I was wasting his time.

Thankfully my therapist is basically a mind reader and at our next session he asked "Are you scared of what I think about you? About that text you sent me?" I admitted I was and he let me know he had no judgement and that he WANTED me to use his phone number to reach out. And when talking with my N I have found the same thing. She wants me to contact her IN THE MOMENT. Not wait days and days of struggling, but right there and then.

Recovery Partners
What's a recovery partner? It's someone else in recovery from an ED similar to yours. You must be weary about these friendships. They can be beneficial, but can also be harmful. I have found it is key that the people you use have a longer period of time in recovery. Otherwise the friendship can become one of you both struggling and pulling each other down instead of kicking ED's ass.

Don't get me wrong. You can be helped from people who aren't strong in their recovery, but you run the risk of pulling each other down. I mean some of my recovery partners are struggling too and still tend to give me good advice, but the best kick-in-the-tush I need is from my partners who are much stronger in their recovery than me.

These are the people you text, call, e-mail, or message in the moment. In those moments you are about to slip or have slipped and need to get back on track. Sometimes it's easier to reach out to people who "get it" instead of your team or others who don't have an ED. Of course, the hard part is finding these people. Mine are mostly friends from treatment or from support sites, but I must say they are the best friends I have.

Non-ED Friends
It's important to have people who pull you out of your ED mindset because they don't have one. Sometimes it's hard to open up to these people about your ED but it helps so much. For me these friends point out things I am doing that aren't normal....things I've been doing so long that I don't realize they are part of my ED.

They also quite quickly can give me rational thoughts to replace my ED thoughts. And I never have to worry about triggering them. I do worry that they will think I am weird or strange, but my non-ED friends (I have come to realize) care about me too much to judge me.

Honestly, I only have two people that fit this criteria in my life, Jeremy and Caitlin, but they are amazing. They support me and help me laugh at my ED. They invite me to go out to eat without being afraid of how my ED will react because they don't have one. Though this can be frustrating, it gives me the chance to challenge myself to be "normal."

That's the other thing. Since my goal here is to find what "normal" life is. To find the place where life involves food but doesn't revolve around food. That's where these friends come in as well. By hanging out with them and talking with them....ED doesn't come into play. Though sometimes I need to talk about ED, I get that from my team and my recovery partners. But I also what to get a taste (no pun intended) of normal life, and these non-ED friends bring that for me. They've never had an ED, ED doesn't run their conversations, and ED doesn't make their plans. So it's almost like I "shadow" them to see what normal life is like, what normal conversation and eating entails.

I mean I would have never known I didn't want to be a vet until I saw what a vet really did, not what I thought they did. How did I do that? I shadowed a vet. So when ED is screaming that normal life will suck or will be scary or whatever, I find out what it's like by going out with my non-ED friends. Granted they know about and support me through my ED, but they also show me life (or a few brief moments) without ED aren't scary, but are glorious. Sure anxiety comes up, but we are always having such a good time it doesn't matter. I'm with people I care about, who care about me, and ED isn't around. It's freaking amazing and I love my friends. They have shown me life is worth living and worth fighting for, that people will love and care for me without my ED, and how much they don't want ED in our relationship.

As sad as it is to say, these are the hardest people for me to reach out to. I always feel so much guilt admitted to them I am struggling, especially after all the times they have sent me to treatment. In fact, I still don't reach out to them when I am struggling, but I have begun to bring them into the recovery process for accountability. As in begun....I mean like starting today.

I (for the first time) shared my meal plan with my mom. I showed her exactly what my exchanges were and told her about my exercise restrictions. Honestly, I think this, mixed with my fear of disappointing her, is part of the reason I am doing so well at home. Just knowing that she knows what I am supposed to be doing....well, it makes me want to do the right thing.

I also love to tell them when I triumph over foods. Well, I like to tell me mom. She (and actually my stepdad too) celebrate when I do those kind of things. For example, they've never seen me drink hot cocoa yet I have had it twice since I have been home and the look of shock and joy on their face when I reach for a cup of makes it taste a little sweeter :) My dad....well he isn't as supportive with it and just reminds me how far I have to go and the times I've messed up, but its okay...we just have more work to do. My mom also understands because she has recovered from anorexia as well so she gets the mental battle. I am so blessed with that.

I still haven't been able to get to the point to tell them when I am struggling, but I think maybe with more time I can do that. It's just hard for me now because I know how scared they are for me health-wise right now. So whenever I slip...well it scares them that I won't pull myself out. Maybe I should get them to read my slip vs relapse post lol.

So just remember you aren't in this battle alone. I mean ED will tell you you are. He will try to isolate you, but there is support all around. Even if you don't have these people in your life yet...well recovery can bring them. Just reach out, go to support groups, open up a tiny bit. It's scary, yes....but hey the idea of a man in a red suit being able to fit down your chimney and sneaking into your house while you are sleeping is scary too. And guess what....we (well I) spent many Christmas Eve's straining to sleep so this exact thing would happen.

So it may be scary, but reach out and I bet you will find tons of people reaching back out to you...ready and willing to help you find the glorious life ahead of you. Even struggles are better when there are people's shoulders to cry on, arms to be held in. And victories...those are so much better celebrated with ones you love. So reach out and find the love and support you deserve.

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