I was recently asked why I started wanting to recovery, and for the longest time, I didn’t know how to respond.
I wish I could say that there was a specific moment in time that made the world of a difference, and that propelled me into recovery, but that would just be wishful thinking. It’s hard to pinpoint when I first started recovery because I wanted to recover then relapse numerous times until I was ultimately ready to give up being disordered. (One important thing that I can say though, is that it is imperative that the incentive to want to recover comes from inside you and not from anybody else because that is what makes it long lasting.)
I guess if I could explain what drove me into treatment was the sheer agony and pain that I was in every day. I couldn’t continue living life the way that I was, and I knew that I couldn’t go on for much longer. Not only physical pain and agony but my mental anguish ultimately drove me into the Renfrew consultation room on October 27, 2017. For me, that was an extremely powerful day because it was one of the first moments that I truly felt like I was at liberty to express how I was feeling and what was going on in my mind. I finally felt like I could talk about what was going on and what I was doing without judgment and was validated my experiences. For the first time I didn’t think I was crazy for what I was doing, but instead saw how my actions were all driven by pain and self-hatred. I asked for help. I knew that I didn’t have the resources or tools to fight this battle by myself. I couldn’t do it on my own.
Sometimes I’ll look back on that time and be astounded by how overwhelming the pain I was experiencing was. No words can articulate the hell that I was living in and express how desperate I was to be free from my mind.
When I first entered day treatment I was commended for my optimism and drive to recover. My best friend Rose often laughs at me because of how optimistic I was, some might even called me naïve. I was hopeful that I would be in and out of treatment within eight weeks. Yeah right. I had no idea what tsunami wave I was about to be hit with.
As the days progressed, treatment started getting progressively difficult and there were many times where I wanted to just give up. I wanted to pull myself out of treatment with the same authority that I put myself in there in the first place and surrender to living a life of pain and suffering under my eating disorder. Recovery was too painful and I didn’t know if the freedom that came with it was worth it at the time.
I sometimes think back on how I had to learn how to sit with unbearable waves of painful and uncomfortable emotions and I wish I knew how I made it through those times, I often found myself curled up in a ball bawling my eyes out, and shaking on the ground. I couldn’t sit with my anxiety and I would do anything in my power to relieve it. so when I first enter treatment and was forced to sit without anxiety I didn’t know how to handle myself. At the end of the eight weeks things were worse than when I first entered treatment in the first place, believe it or not. I went on Christmas vacation with my family and we traveled around Norway and London watching the northern lights and riding dog sleds. To anyone, it was the dream vacation and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To me, it was the peak of my relapse and suffering in my eating disorder.
I was in excruciating pain and was being suffocated by my anxiety, and it clouded my entire memory of the trip. I remember convincing myself that I wasn’t hungry and I had energy, and fighting through moments of dizziness to put on a brave face and appear to be happy when inside, I didn’t want to go on anymore. after our first three-course dinner at the cabin in Norway, I remember breaking down on my bed in front of my mom, shaking and telling her that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t sit down at the table and eat that meal every day for a few days. I couldn’t handle it. The only way that I can describe what I was feeling was sheer fear. Fear for my life and fear for my sanity. I can’t exactly pinpoint what it was exactly that I feared, but I do know that it consumed my entire body. It removed me from being present in my experiences on a dogsled and icefishing in the middle of an ice field, and made me be constantly in my mind, trying to convince myself that I would be OK. I was in my mind counting. I was in my mind praying for sleep. Endless sleep.
I still remember when we flew to London that first night, we landed at 10 PM and all that I could think about was how grateful I was that we were finally in the city, surrounded by people and civilization, which meant that I could go out on a run. My poor mother had to watch her daughter run out of the apartment in the middle of the night just to get a workout in when the weather was below freezing. The next day the same thing happened, and the day after that. I still remember wearing two pairs of leggings, two fleece jackets, a rain jacket, and three pairs of socks after having woken up at 7 AM to go for a run in -2° weather, in the pouring rain.
Thinking back on this painful part of my life is not only surreal but painful. To think about how much agony I was in everyday is heartbreaking, and I can only imagine how hard it was for my family and friends watch me cry myself to sleep everyday. There is definitely a grieving process that must occur when thinking back on traumatic experiences and I am still processing it all, one year later.