I almost forgot to share, but 2017 was the first time in 7 years that I did not seek treatment of a higher level of care for my eating disorder, or any other mental health issues!!
Since 2009, my story has always been, “I’m throwing in the towel because I can’t do this”. I honestly believe some of my treatment stays were life-saving. I look back now though and I wish I broke the cycle of going away to get help each year, sometimes multiple times in one year, sooner.
I have some great family members and friends who love me dearly, but when I would go year after year, they seemed to lose more and more hope in me each and every time. Still to this day, some people in my life don’t tell me about big things going on because they don’t think I can handle hearing about it, because change used to terrify me. I certainly don’t blame anyone who thought otherwise, but I wish they had higher hopes for me sooner, because this is one of my biggest accomplishments yet and so much of this change and hard work truly came from within.
I’ve learned that I not only can survive my triggers, such as change, flashbacks, stress, etc., but I can also thrive despite them.
Though my intention for getting help was always because I wanted to get better, treatment became an escape for me, and it became a habit because I’d return when I felt I couldn’t handle the real world. It was my safety net, that consequently ended up hindering the speed of my progress.
While I have a ways to go in recovery, I’m so proud of myself, for this accomplishment of living life outside of treatment.
I’m also really looking forward to being recognized for this, instead of being told, “It has been 7 years of this, and counting”. Now I can say, “No, I’m taking my life back. I may have fallen into negative patterns before, but I broke them. And yes, I did go back and forth for 7 years, but also during that time, I have progressed in countless ways that you may not be able to visibly see, but are invaluable. All those hospital stays may have taken up my energy and your patience, but I’m here now. And I’m going to keep fighting.”
I hope my story inspires you to see that treatment does not have to be your life. Your struggles do not have to become your identity. On the other hand, please please please seek help if necessary. There can be a balance between needing treatment and needing to face triggers on our own. This is my story, one story out of millions, and my recovery required me to find that balance because I was at one extreme — thinking I could not survive without constantly being in residential treatment. I urge you to seek help regardless of what people may think, and regardless of what your disorder may tell you. Your struggles are valid, you are worthy of receiving help, and you deserve to feel better.
You are not alone.