Journey to Recovery
Alsana Treatment Center is starting a series of blog posts about the recovery process. Specifically the process a few of our alumni have encountered 3 or more years down the line. If you are an alumni of Alsana and would like to share your journey please feel free to contact Deanna James at deanna.james@Alsanatc.com Below if our first post by one of our alumni!
My Journey to Recovery:
You know, I can recall a time, a lot of times, when I felt that recovery was not possible, that I somehow didn’t deserve to have recovery. Recovery from ED, recovery from anything. I felt I needed to punish myself for what had happened to me in the past, being molested at age 9, and raped at 16. Both traumas I had kept deep inside of me for many years and hid them well. I was the queen of facades. Nobody knew anything was wrong because of my mask that I have always worn. Anyways, I can remember when recovery just wasn’t for me.
I had began restricting at age 10 after being molested. At age 13, I read an article in a YM magazine about a girl who struggled with Bulimia. The article explained what she weighed before and what she got down to, and HOW she did it. Well, I began that cycle of binging and purging…My self esteem, depression and isolation began very young, and continued to get worse day by day. I attempted suicide at age 15. Began my years of laxative abuse at 16.
I began using drugs, Meth and marijuana at 16, after being passed out from alcohol and raped at 16. After that, I was not myself . I hid a lot of stuff that had happened to me for many years. Hid behind my ED, alcohol, drugs, and a mask.
I had been to treatment numerous times by the time I hit 30. On June 15th 2007, while at Alsana Treatment Center, I was asked (for the hundredth time) “How long have you had your ED?” And after numerous times of saying 20 yrs…this time I again said, “20yrs.” This individual asked how old I was, I said almost 30. They asked how old was I when I started struggling with ED. I said age 10. It hit me right then, THAT IS OVER HALF MY LIFE! I did not want to be 50 and have been struggling with ED for 40 yrs!! Right then and there, I decided no more purging, no more laxatives, and that I would work really hard on the restricting. After that I worked really hard on the recovery process. I came to realize that I do deserve recovery and that recovery could possibly be attainable for me.
The foremost thing I had to work on and still am working toward everyday is the positive self talk; countering the negative thoughts that may pop in. When a negative body image thought or a distorted thought would pop up I can now say to myself things such as … I am beautiful the way I am, I am healthy now, I am OK… I can now counter those negative thoughts when I, at one time, didn’t think that was possible. I still have to catch myself on those distorted thoughts and put into place positive self talk every now and then, but it has truly gotten easier. As I have a few decades of telling myself all this negative talk, I have had to ‘retrain’ my brain, so to speak. I’ve had to learn/realize this doesn’t happen overnight. I have had to fight with the “I want this all done NOW, over with NOW, get through this NOW” mentality, but have had to tell myself what therapists were constantly telling me…its gonna take time.
I have had to let therapists, doctors, psychiatrists into my bubble. Ive had to give up trying to control me, and do it all on my own, and turn some of this stuff into their hands to allow them to help me. I had to give up trying to control the outcomes of situations that I had no control over or trying to control the future. I’ve had to Let Go and Let God. Be willing, not willful, open my clenched hands to HIM. I’ve had to give a lot over to God and put it in His hands. And allow Him to help me, guide me, and sometimes carry me.
I’ve had to give up trying to control my emotions. I would hold those tears inside like nothing else. Quickly wipe away the tears before anyone notices. I wouldn’t cry in front of others, too embarrassing, I had to be strong. I have recently opened up and shed the tears that I have desperately needed/wanted to shed for many years.
I’ve been working on new coping skills to take the place of the old, bad coping skills. Walking my dog, staying busy, wrapping myself in a blanket (comfort), writing pro/cons lists, relaxation (yes, I am doing that as well..something else I thought for sure wouldn’t work for me), listening to music, something to distract me for the time I had urges.
Another step I have had to take in recovery of ED was to step back for awhile from a few friends who were/are still active in their ED’s. It was/is soo hard to do, to step back, but in the early recovery I realized I needed to do that for my own recovery. To keep me in recovery and not slip back into ED’s strong grasp. Because it wouldn’t have been hard to get back into old/bad habits, old/bad routines, back to ED. I’ve had to stop watching model reality shows and would switch the channel for diet commercials for awhile, until I felt I was comfortable and able to watch them without them being triggered.
October 26, 2007, only 4 months after starting my recovery process of ED, I quit drugs. Soo.. I have had to cut a lot of people out of my life, and pretty much had to spread my Eagles wings and fly! Soaring towards recovery of ED and sobriety, while working on trauma and self harm. It has been quite a rocky journey. Boy, it has been 3 long, bumpy, frightening; yet rewarding and the most growing years of my life! I have really grown as a person, as a survivor.
I have truly gotten to know myself, not pretending to be someone I’m not. Be myself, stop hiding from my feelings, my thoughts, myself. Stop wearing a facade, a mask. I still work on that everyday, but it too has gotten easier as I have let a few friends into my bubble…my world. I have allowed myself to feel joy, happiness, to smile and laugh, a TRUE laugh, not just a nervous or forced laugh, but a true laugh.
Again, there was a time when I didn’t think recovery was ever possible…. I’m here to tell you now that IT IS POSSIBLE!
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