Last week, I had dinner with two girls I met in my recovery journey. I was struck by how much we all had changed. When you’re in treatment- any level- you hear it again and again: “This too shall pass”. I seriously wanted to punch people in the throat for saying that on some of my worst days. But you know what? It’s so freaking true. All the things I felt tortured by in treatment, all the things my eating disorder and anxious mind raged about- they passed.
No- the hard things, the hurting, the annoying decisions, the loss, the anger, the confusion, the regret, and the tears- they certainly have not and did not just disappear. But as I have gotten healthier, the time have passed where those things no longer control my life and every thought.
Here is what no one tells you starting out: treatment is kind of traumatic.
Sounds extreme, but think about it. Facing something you hate/are afraid of (food) up to six times a day. I remember knowing I was drinking 1000 calories a day in supplements alone on top of my meal plan. Forcing myself to bundle up and walk for an hour & a half in 30-40 degree weather after I got home from day treatment, because I was sneaking in exercise. Getting yoga taken away. Sitting on the kitchen floor crying and wondering if I could ever get myself out of this hell. Finding out insurance didn’t cover labs and tests required for treatment, and owing hundreds of dollars in medical bills. Finding out my primary care physician wasn’t covered either, but secretly being relieved because when I got a respiratory infection, I knew without a doubt she would have hospitalized me. My life became a series of trying to avoid the higher level of care I needed, even if it almost killed me. Going to sleep at night and not caring if I woke up. Carefully hiding the Holter (heart) monitor under my work clothes. Not speaking to my family for weeks, because this illness can and will creep into every aspect of your life. My mom coming to visit and yelling at me in the kitchen because she finally understood, and so did I, that eating disorders are a matter of life and death. Lying to my friends about “where I’ve been” because who wants to explain rehab? Even I didn’t understand it. Missing holidays with loved ones because I’m in treatment. It’s the day after Christmas and it’s snowing; but it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all because my life is a lie and a secret.
Honestly, some of those things have passed and become funny stories. Stuff that no one else except those of us who went through it would understand. My friend hiding cookies in the Nurse Practitioner’s plant when she turned her back. (I wonder if she ever found them). Crying over my pasta being “too shiny”. Bringing snacks to my nutritionist appointment and refusing to eat them because I was a brat. Spiking supplements with various forms of alcohol in a desperate attempt to make them more appealing and drinkable. (Fail). Watching my nutritionist roll her eyes and sigh; because I’m choosing to be difficult. My therapist hardcore dropping the F-bomb during group therapy, just trying to get me to feel SOMETHING. I ended up bawling like a baby and it was absolutely not funny in the moment, but 2 years later, I have that therapist to thank for my life.
This too shall pass.
Someday, you will be healthy if you keep fighting. Your life will be yours again. I know it doesn’t feel like that in the moment. I’ve been there too; those dark times where you feel hopeless and helpless. It gets better. Would I tell you that if it wasn’t true? Absolutely not. For a long time, I didn’t believe that some of that pain would end. I didn’t believe my life could ever be in color, instead of the awful grey it was. I wasn’t sure if I was fixable.
But, GOD. By His grace, I have put one foot in front of the other. There were times I fell. Times I didn’t want to get back up, or didn’t think I could. Sometimes, the struggle is still real ya’ll. But the God I serve is the ultimate Healer, and He has done amazing things with my life in recovery. I am REDEEMED. In so many ways. I don’t know the person I used to be, because she was a shell. I have hope, because I have a Savior who promises to complete every good work He has started in me. Maybe you’re not a believer. Maybe you are. But God is the center of my story, and at the end of the day, I am grateful He chose to keep my here to use my voice and fight this illness. That’s huge- when I was at my worst I truly would have rather died than continue to live that way.
This too shall pass. It absolutely will. Your struggles will not always define you.
If you choose recovery- no one can make you. You have to do the work. There will be days you want to throw in the towel, sometimes more days than not. But that will pass and you will see how beautiful it is to be alive and to be loved.
So be brave.
It’s worth it.