Two years ago I was ending my time in intensive treatment and facing outpatient treatment. I was working hard identifying my triggers, creating a bank of coping skills, and spending more time at treatment-related mental health, medical, and nutritional appointments than I ever thought possible. My life changed in many ways when I made the decision to finally get serious about getting better, and the mountain I thought I was facing has become nothing more than a molehill.
Prior to entering treatment I knew I was staring at a mountain before me. I was preparing to have my way of life taken away in order to teach me how to face life in a healthy way. At 28-years old my food was monitored and carefully portioned, followed by being watched by treatment professionals as I ate it all within an allotted time. If my nutritional needs had not been met during the day I was given a Boost nutritional drink to supplement. I was prevented from using the bathroom after eating, and told not to exercise. My life was getting turned upside down, voluntarily, but it was anything other than pleasant. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to face life without the close “companionship” the eating disorder provided. With each new challenge I conquered, I climbed a little higher up the mountain and toward full recovery. I slipped and stumbled along the way, sliding back down the slope and often feeling like I was starting over. However, with every slip I was never back at the bottom staring back up at the mountain in its entirety.
Fast-forward to one year ago when I was in outpatient treatment, still working diligently with my therapist and dietician to reach my nutritional and mental health goals. One year ago I was close to ending my time in therapy while sorting through the remnants of my past trauma and striving to overcome anxiety. I was struggling to eat in restaurants, sit with my back to the door, and go out in public to crowded areas. I worked hard with my therapist to identify what made me anxious and how to cope with it when the symptoms of anxiety would arise. At the same time I was working hard with my dietician to become comfortable eating in public and eating foods that were challenging to been seen eating (i.e.: pasta). Nothing about recovery has been easy but it has been completely worth it–and the journey isn’t over yet because I am still learning.
Now, nine months discharged from all types treatment, I am still working to stay strong in recovery but these days the challenges don’t look like a mountain but more like a molehill. While there isn’t a giant mountain for me to climb, I do stumble over the molehills from time to time. I have to work hard not to fall on my face as a result. For example, it took me a few months after moving on our boat to realize I wasn’t giving myself the time for self-care that I did prior to moving aboard. Instead of crafting, journaling, or doing daily yoga and meditation I was constantly rushed with adjusting to life on the water. As a result, I fell over that molehill and spent a few months on the ground in a relapse state.
My recovery is nowhere near complete, as I believe it is a life-long learning process, but what I have learned about myself is worth the fall. I thought I didn’t need the amount of self-care and meditation that I once did, but that is the beauty of recovery–I am always evolving and proving myself wrong. I thought I didn’t need intensive treatment in 2014…I was wrong. The memory of my therapist and dietician talking on the phone, and coaxing me to call the treatment center while in a therapy session, will forever be burned in my memory. Only after a month of intensive treatment did I realize I spent so many years of my life trapped in a disease and in need of recovery. Then, as I continued to meet with my dietician even after ending treatment with my outpatient therapist, did I realize my thoughts surrounding certain foods and my body image still needed work.
Today, I love being in recovery and continuing to learn more about myself and this life. There are times I wish I could talk to a therapist, but that is when I remember I harbor within me the ability and strength to pick myself up from stumbling over a molehill and learn from it. I’ve come a long way from the scared woman I was in 2014 when I passed through the doors of the treatment center. My triggers are fewer than ever before. I mean, I am sitting here watching the Miss Universe pageant while I type this; something I couldn’t have done even last year. (Which, by the way, Miss Canada was just interviewed about body shaming and loving who she is in her own skin. LOVE!)
Regardless of stumbling over a molehill a few times this year, I love myself more with each passing day. I grow stronger with each new revelation about my body, myself, and my life in recovery. Being confident in my body and who I am as a woman helps me enjoy life with a passion I’ve never before experienced. My personality has grown and I’ve developed likes, dislikes, and favorites that I never had the opportunity to do before. I may look vastly different from five or ten years ago (see photo below) but I feel more beautiful than ever. I don’t often post photos from when I was sick, but in this case I look at the photos in amazement. My eyes are brighter, my smile is genuinely happy, and I am truly living life instead of existing in it.