Written by Sarah Kate Hutchison, Alsana Alumnus
Do I want to live a life worth living, or do I want to live a life with my eating disorder — one that won’t last very long?
This was a question I faced a little over a year ago… a question that I didn’t know the answer to at the time. I had struggled with my eating disorder for many years and had gone to treatment various times, and yet I kept relapsing with little hope and a diminishing desire to get better. I doubted that recovery was possible for me even though my treatment team, family, and friends were telling me otherwise.
After being told I had to go back to a residential treatment facility, a huge feeling of defeat and anger came over me. This was the wake-up call that I dreaded. Where was the snooze button… you know, that button to shut off the alarm you don’t want to hear? Well, this snooze button did not exist for me. I had to choose if I wanted to wake up and live a life worth living or if I wanted to keep living with my eating disorder.
After a few days of contemplation and many mixed emotions, I chose to give treatment one more chance. I promised myself that I was going to try my hardest this time to find freedom in recovery. I knew that I was about to face the biggest challenge of my life: learning how to navigate through some of my greatest fears and work on things I had never talked about in depth before. These were things that had kept me trapped in a false sense of reality. Although the thought of changing some of these was crippling at times, I went back to the question of if I wanted to live a life worth living or continue on the path of my eating disorder, and most of the time the answer was a life worth living.
To say that the months spent at Alsana and at Alsana at The Highlands working towards retraining my brain and shifting my beliefs to match reality was easy would be the biggest understatement of my life. Rather, these months would prove to be trying and filled with tears and pain. But I had treatment teams in both St. Louis and in Birmingham who guided the process, I had other clients who became like family to me, who heard me through it all and related to parts of my story, and I had my friends and family back home who cheered me on the entire way. This time in treatment was different for many reasons, but the most important difference was that this time I chose. I chose to go, after trying to get my way with my outpatient team. I chose to put in the work I needed to do to start changing my old habits. I chose to make this time in treatment different than past stays. I CHOSE TO LIVE!
Shannon L. Alder stated, “There comes a time in your life when you have to choose to turn the page, write another book, or simply close it.” Since discharging and returning to everyday life, I will admit it has been difficult. I’ve experienced struggles and days where the choice to live free or live with my eating disorder is hard to make. The everyday stressors of life get in the way sometimes. However, I work to remind myself of the progress I’ve made, and how it has brought me this far. I wouldn’t be in nursing school and working part-time had it not been for the choices in recovery that I’ve made in the past year. Despite how much I may dislike change, recovery looks a little different each day. I am allowing myself to express emotions truthfully rather than through my eating disorder. I am finding things in life that are meaningful, and I am working to use my voice to make decisions that guide me where I want to go in life. Overall, recovery is a choice I am working to make each day![cta] Recovery is possible. You can be the inspiration that leads someone else to seeking recovery for their eating disorder. Share your story today and help evoke change #MyAlsanaStory [/cta]