I don’t know that I have “arrived” in recovery. If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you know that I’ve struggled. I’ve had my ups and downs. This post is how I got better, again.
It was tough. I went to the first meeting with my shrink, so wound up that I could snap at any moment. I was a mess.
Just even getting the appointment was a stomach-wrenching experience for me:
I called the 1-800 number on the back of my insurance card to get pre-approved for mental health coverage. It’s one of those stupid voice recognition systems. (**Side note, I hate those with the passion of a thousand fires!) It asks why I am calling. I already feel like an idiot for having to call, as it is. So I say, “mental health coverage.” It asks me to repeat it. Then, the female voices says (with disdain, I might add), “Are you trying to say, ‘Check a claim?'” Um…. no. Then she says, “I think I’m having a hard time understanding you. Let’s start over. Say, ‘Check a claim, check for coverage, blah blah blah blah.'” So I say, “operator.” And what happens? Oh no. If you guessed that I spoke with a human, you’re wrong. She starts *all over* again.
“Okay, I understand you want to speak with a representative.” And we go through the same thing. Finally, fed up with the whole process, I start saying random words (like unicorn, pizza, Santa Claus) until the mechanical woman finally succumbs to my stupidity and puts me through to a human. Once I speak with this guy, I tell him that if I weren’t already crazy, I would be, by now. And he’s lucky I didn’t have a gun because I would have ended myself 25 minutes ago. He laughs, nervously, and then I tell him I’m just kidding.
So, I went to the appointment with the shrink. I tell her, upfront, that I don’t need to be shrunk. I don’t want her to ask, “how does that make me feel?” and “how do I think I should handle that?” because if I knew, I wouldn’t be here. She accepts my directness and challenges me. I spend two weeks in total internal chaos. I cry. I cry. And I cry some more. And I get reassurance from people who love me. But ultimately, I have myself to blame for this and it is killing me.
Wow… and you know what the worst part is? I haven’t even shared with you what I was doing and continued to do through half of my recovery? I was taking diuretics 4 times a week. Can you believe it? In addition to hardly eating anything and purging on occasion, I was taking laxatives and water pills to control the rapid fluctuations in my weight.
Who knew that my body would rebel against such mistreatment?
I can’t say that I know what it is like to be an addict to a real drug. I can’t say that I fully understand it when people throw away their entire lives to these addictions. But I can empathize. I let myself fall prey to insecurity and fear. Dysfunction reached in, wrapped itself around my psyche, and established roots. The truth is that I felt safe in the disorder. It was all in my control – even if I felt out of control with it. It was *my* choice. It was all on me. No one put a gun to my head and said, “Purge.” Or “Take these pills, or else.” I did it. I remember, in painful detail, every single time I made the choice to do more. To get worse.
My therapist helped me get control over those thoughts. Through intense and, often, difficult conversations, she and I began to build a path around these obstacles I was unable to overcome. It took a while. I slipped. I purged, or took pills or restricted. It took me 5 years before I was actually able to diet normally, instead of resorting to bad habits, despite the 60 lbs I put on.
It isn’t easy, even now. I feel better, and stronger, now than I ever have. But every day, and every meal, I have some thought that used to overtake me. I still think, “You shouldn’t eat that,” or “this is why you’re fat.” I even say it out loud, sometimes. Even worse? I assume every rejection is because of my appearance and physical shortcomings. It’s hard not to feel that way. I love who I am inside, and I believe others do, as well. So it must be the outside that is so repulsive. I know… I know. You don’t have to remind me. I try not to think so badly of myself.
On the other hand, I have had some great gains in self-confidence. Despite the weight that I’ve put on, I am confident enough to accept compliments. I feel comfortable in my own skin, even when I am only wearing my own skin. I don’t look in the mirror and think I should be in a magazine, but I do think that someone out there in the world finds me attractive.
The road is winding. It is long. I wake up every day as a bulimic. I go to bed in the same way. But my resolve is in making healthy choices for my mind, body and soul. My resolve is in loving who I am.
I’ve been healthy, and recovered, for 2 years. Maybe slightly longer than that. I was in therapy for many months, almost weekly, to get my head on straight again. I believe that saved my life. And now, many years later, I am stronger and happier with myself than I ever have been.
My goal is to stay that strong. I believe I can.
So that’s my story. At least, that’s one chapter of my story. There are more tales to tell. Stay tuned. One or two are bound to surface.
Lastly, my PSA:
It isn’t easy and I won’t lie to you by telling you it is. But if you’ve found me and my story, and you think you need help, please click on the link to the National Eating Disorders Association and call the helpline. Don’t spend your life wondering what happiness feels like. And believe me, it isn’t found on your knees after a purge. It isn’t found at the end of a 300 calorie day. It isn’t found after you take more than your share of pills. And, even though everyone on TV and in magazines likes to say so, it isn’t found when you reach your perfect weight. It starts inside. And you have to get your head right before your body will follow. Trust me. I’ve lived it. Get help today. Click the link.