Recovery for me has come in a lot of waves, there are times I am struggling, the very best I have, is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but then things start to come together and I receive multiple realizations. At times, this has certainly has made things tough, especially in the beginning of my journey, moving from a position where I’m floundering, feeling like I will never get better, to becoming a recovery genius and knowing all the right moves, just to end up back at square one and feel like I have no clue.
Eating Disorders, Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge-Purge Disorders, are all considered mental illnesses, hereditary and biologically based. They come with phycological, physical and social consequences. Typically co-existing with other illness and/or disorders, they have been associated with anxiety, depression, self harm and shop lifting, just to name a few. They are highly misunderstood by most, honestly how can you understand something, no matter how hard you try, if you have never been through it or something similar?
Eating Disorders are occasionally referred to as addictions, since there are many superficial similarities. From what I have read and understand, if addiction is all that is looked at during treatment, success would be very minimal, perhaps not at all, treatment need to be taken to a deeper level, as is done with mental illness.
In the treatment program I underwent, we didn’t discuss addiction recovery at all, which I understand, it could confuse some of the issues or messages being conveyed or addressed. There were so many underlying issue we all needed to get to, so much that needed to be uncovered. I believe however, some of the 12 steps (see below) should have been looked at, because regardless of mental illness or addiction, anyone recovering from anything, has caused pain and done things they would like to forget.
I can attest to the amount of guilt and shame someone with an ED endures, feeling bad about everything, always apologizing, going over and over conversations in your head, remembering conversations or scenarios from 20 years ago, which are long forgotten by anyone else involved, concerned about the funny look you got, is that person mad at you? I also know how it feels to get in my own head, personalizing everything, feeling like I’m being blamed, ridiculed, attacked, judged; how it confuses the real issues and makes seeing past your own insecurities, simply impossible.
Now that I’m in a position, where I’m starting to get well, not constantly battling disordered thoughts and feelings, I am starting to recognize how many situation I personalized and changed in my head. How I took my exhaustion and anger, out on those closest to me. I can see my short comings, for what they really are, not just me telling myself, I’m worthless and there’s nothing I can do about it, but actually take ownership and fix it.
I wish I had been given the heads up, advised I would start to come into reality and see things for what they are, not just my distorted, disordered view. That I would actually see how my behaviour affected my family and friends, how I lost time with them, how I took out my anger and judgement on them, blamed them for my being sick, continuing to let myself off the hook.
If you are in recovery or helping someone with recovery, of any kind, know the lights will turn on and it might be ugly. Make sure you have support, be kind to yourself, so you can get through the hurt, hopefully without relapsing. As my realizations started to come into focus, The Disorder became very loud and clear, unfortunately I relapsed, but it was only for a moment. Lucky, I have some pretty amazing people in my life, who helped me get back up and keep moving forward, because it’s been to long and I’ve worked too damn hard, to give up now!
The 12 Steps, as outlined in the original Big Book and presented by AA are: