We are honored to share a personal view of recovery from one of our amazing alumnae. Her story exemplifies the unique and brave path of recovery that many are working toward.
After almost twenty years of struggling, I was finally ready to say goodbye to my eating disorder. About three years ago, I walked through the doors of OPC. My eating disorder had dictated my every move for far too long, and even though I was ready to part with it, my recovery had not been easy. Deciding to check myself into OPC was the best decision I have ever made. It was the best gift I’ve ever given myself.
I spent a year at OPC – seven months in their comprehensive program and five months in their intensive outpatient program. Through these programs, I was finally able to see myself for the amazing woman that I am and not the unlovable and unworthy person that I saw through the lens of my eating disorder. The staff at OPC taught me how to feel not only my emotions, but also how to intuitively listen and trust my body.
The last two years have been a roller coaster. The inner strength that I developed at OPC, and have continued to foster with the help of my amazing outpatient team, has helped me in more ways that I can ever describe. Most significantly, it has helped me put the last piece of the puzzle together and finally work through being abused as a young child. About three months after I left OPC I started to have memories of the abuse. As you can imagine, this was a very confusing and frightening time for me. And even though I was able to retain my strong sense-of-self, the emotions at times were so strong that they started to manifest into bodily reactions. My physical reactions helped me realize when I was emotionally checked out. They continue to indicate that I need to stop, take a break, and check in with myself.
Recovery isn’t always easy, and at times I didn’t think that I was strong enough to sustain it; but I was, and I am. Living a life free from the grasp of my eating disorder is more incredible than I could ever imagine. To those of you who are currently struggling, please know that recovery is possible. You too can break away from your horrible and debilitating disease. Everyone’s recovery is different, and things that work for one person might not work for another; however, here are the top ten things that have helped me sustain recovery.
- Put yourself first!
- Ask for help.
- Realize that recovery isn’t perfect. You are going to have the occasional slip-up.
- Stay in treatment. In my opinion, staying in treatment after OPC is crucial.
- Find a stress-free job that you enjoy.
- If exercise triggers your eating disorder then DO NOT exercise.
- Don’t just settle and see the first therapist and nutritionist that you talk to. Do your homework and find a team that best fits you.
- Get a pet. As silly as this might sound, my dog is my rock.
- Be patient, honest and loving toward yourself.