I remember the day I mentioned to my Mom that I wanted to just go and finally face Ed head on. It was a decision that helped me make positive steps towards my full recovery.
But it's not easy by any means to go through treatment. Being in a foreign place without your loved ones there to support you is scary and having everything taken away from you can be even more terrifying.
So this makes the day you get released back into the world a strange thing. On one hand you feel like you are finally free and want to do all of those things you were forbidden to do, but on the other hand you don't want to lose all of the progress you've made from being there in the first place.
The day I left treatment I was scared as hell. I was terrified that I was going to go back home and have to come right back again. But I also hated myself more than when I first arrived and going back to my old behaviors was something I looked forward to. It helped me cope right?
Lucky for me, my motivation of not wanting to go back into treatment ever again, was strong enough to keep me on the right track of disobeying Ed and staying healthy.
But this isn't how it works for everyone because in my experience I've seen people go from one treatment center to the next without really getting any better or learning anything that helps keep them out.
And I've always been fascinated at why this happens.
What goes so wrong after these people leave treatment that makes them end up right back there again?
So this got me thinking and the best best theory I can come up with is this:
Don't freak out.
When you first return home, everything is different.
You are no longer that stick-thin girl (or boy) who was weak and didn't eat. You have a new identity and sometimes that can be a scary thing. You might not know who you are anymore. Your body has changed and your thoughts are more powerful because you are not using your old behaviors to block them out.
You're vulnerable and naked.
So what happens is that you panic, you freak out, and then what do you do? You go back to what you know best.
You restrict, you binge, you exercise, you do whatever it is you do that takes the pain away and puts you at ease. This is when you begin to lose all of the weight you just gained and you spiral out of control once again. And then you're back to where you started and find yourself in yet another center.
It's a never ending cycle, just like the actual eating disorder.
So instead of focusing on all of the challenges of just getting out of treatment, try focusing on staying out and getting back to a healthy lifestyle. Focus on remembering why you want to recover, why you need it. Focus on the fact that your weight will redistribute and that if you continue to work hard, things will begin to feel good again.
It took me a good six months or so to finally be able to feel okay in my own skin again. At first I was so depressed about my body that I refused to go out of the house in fear that people would see how 'fat'I was.
And of course I wasn't 'fat', but because I had forgotten what being healthy actually looked like, seeing myself in the mirror was a shock because I was expecting to see skin and bones but instead I saw a healthy glowing person.
But at first this made me upset.
Because I had been so thin and sick for so long, being at a normal weight again was foreign to me. I didn't know how to deal with it.
But knowing and trusting that what everyone told me was actually in fact true, that my weight would even out and that my mind would slow down and I would begin to settle in, I kept going. I kept eating what I was supposed to eat, and I kept telling myself that I'd be okay.
This is where the healing comes in, my loves. When you can push past your fears and find the courage to do what you know is right.
And it's not always going to feel right to your mind, because Ed still has control over that, but you can feel it in your heart and it gently whispers that it'll be worth it.
So you keep going because you know the benefits of doing so will outweigh the advantages of following Ed in the future.
Don't give up what you want most, for what you want now.
Just remember: Don't Freak Out.