Although it doesn't feel like it majority of the time, I have officially survived my first month of treatment. When people asked about how my first week went, I was proudly and genuinely able to say that it went well! I initially was able to find excitement in challenging myself and trying the new foods I was given, but I soon realized that the challenges were insignificant to what was yet to come. I was warned that on my first day of treatment I would probably think I made the worst decision of my life but it wasn’t until the end of the second week when that feeling hit. I had a huge wake-up call that treatment was FAR from exciting and that the obstacles I would be faced would be the most challenging things I would ever have to overcome. I went into (and ended) my first week in treatment with a great deal of confidence and motivation, which is why I was even more discouraged when the reality of it occurred…
Before treatment, I was truly satisfied with the way I looked even though I knew others viewed me as “unhealthy” or “gross”. I didn’t think I was restricting, but considering I was continuously losing weight, I can look back and say I was in denial. Getting down to the double digits, my weight was at an all-time low, seeming to be completely out of my control. That being said, I was committed to putting any leftover control that I had, into the hands of professionals.
Finding out that I was expected to restore around 18 lbs. not only seemed unbearable, but totally unrealistic. However, soon into treatment that fear turned into motivation as I knew I would get off trays and be able to pick my food (within reason), once I started to restore. Whether it brought me disgust, discomfort, or guilt, I proudly ate everything that was given to me throughout the 8 hours at the hospital. Independent meals (a time where we have complete freedom- aka can easily act on any urges), was a time for me to show myself and/or others my determination to destroy the illness that has been eating at me for years (literally lol). Needless to say, I was genuinely happy when I saw a slight increase in my weight, knowing my “reward” of some freedom, was soon to come.
At this time, when I saw others hiding food, I found it pathetic that they deliberately chose to go against recovering. Not only was it disappointing to see, but it was also extremely frustrating and tempting to do the same. Why deal with the emotional, mental, and physical discomfort when there was an alternative action that could temporary ease that? Yes, that action might not be in the steps to recovery, but it sure would be easier! Little did I find out, it wasn’t…
As degrading as it is, I have to admit that the amount of shame that resulted in hiding food was not enough to keep me from doing it again. After continuing to restore weight, the number on the scale no longer made me genuinely happy, but rather disgusted and disappointed. Unfortunately, as my weight increased, so did my fears, urges, and behaviors. Being a month into treatment and having restored 11 lbs., you’d think I am doing better, however, I am now struggling the most.
Recently I have been trying to get over my biggest obstacle- not wanting to restore anymore weight. I am having difficulties accepting the changes so far to my body and until I can be happy with where I currently am at, I refuse to restore anymore. I no longer feel as if my body needs to be eating foods like fries and cheeseburgers every day, yet I still have too. Instead, I rather start practicing the way I plan on eating every day on my own with foods like quinoa, bread, rice, etc. but that won’t fly.
This belief of not needing to restore anymore weight has resulted in me trying to take back the control that I once gave up. It first started with me hiding my snacks, then shortly turned into hiding/throwing out as much of my meal as possible. The more I have been able to avoid in treatment, the more I feel like I deserve to eat on my own (TERRIBLE MINDSET, I deserve to eat regardless!). My mentality on the weekends has changed from dominating independent meals to restricting as much as possible. Seeing my motivation and commitment go from a 10 to a 3 has been a huge set back. I know in treatment there are always going to be obstacles and winning them all is unrealistic, however, experiencing such failure for the first time has made me feel discouraged and hopeless.
How could I so easily look at others struggling and tell them that they can do it, yet cannot tell myself the same? As humble as I am, I can say that my original confidence and motivation towards treatment and recovery made me an individual that others really looked up too. Being in treatment longer than some and having restored the most, I feel like I need to continue to be a role model for others and show that taking the easy way out is not an option. Whenever I give in to urges I feel like I not only disappointed my peers and staff, but any other person that has had faith in me.
During group my friend turned to me and said, “Jess, you know you don’t need to be strong for all of us, right???”
But sometimes when you can’t find the strength to do something for yourself, you have to do it for others....