As a young woman living existing with bulimia, I held onto a lot of fear and shame about my eating disorder. I had been struggling with my weight, self-esteem, and mental health issues for over twelve years but my fears and concerns kept holding me back from getting the help that I truly needed. When I finally decided to take the first step towards residential treatment for my eating disorder, I knew I was going to have to face those fears in order to truly overcome my illness.
My first fear was the fact that, while I felt crushed by the weight of my eating disorder, I was often told that I wasn’t sick enough to get the treatment I truly needed. My size often changed dramatically but I was never considered underweight and I definitely did not look like the stereotypical eating disorder patient.
Knowing that I needed help and thinking I could actually get it seemed miles apart in my world because I often questioned whether I even deserved help. One of my biggest fears about seeking treatment was that I would be the largest girl in a program. I was already brutally hard on myself at home as I was always comparing myself to others - I even believed that I should make myself more sick before seeking treatment so that doctors would take my issues more seriously. To me, residential treatment felt like a place where these comparisons would be magnified beyond what I could handle.
When I arrived at the Woodstone Residence in May 2012, these feelings surfaced on multiple occasions but I soon learned that many of my peers were battling the same feelings. No matter their size or shape, every person had insecurities and, over the course of my stay at the Woodstone, many people around me expressed the same fears that I held onto so tightly. Although treatment is an individual journey, it is also a shared experience and residential recovery taught me that I was not alone on this road to recovery and knowing this, the whole process didn’t feel so scary anymore. I had an army of supporters walking through the trenches with me - we were all fighting the same battle.
The other significant fear that I had to overcome when taking the step into residential recovery was the anxiety that I was going to lose control of my circumstances and be forced to trust others to take care of me.
Even though my current state of life with my bulimia was completely out of control, I still worried about my new environment. The day I was accepted to the Woodstone’s recovery program, my mind was flooded with a myriad of questions about everything from my daily schedule, access to Internet, rooming arrangements, and what I was going to eat every day.
I was completely overwhelmed and feverishly scoured the Woodstone website for every scrap of information I could find; I needed to know everything. I needed to be prepared; I wanted to be in control.
Thankfully I was able to call the nurses and get many of my little logistical questions answered. Yes, I would have an assigned laundry day. Yes, I could check my email. But some of my questions couldn’t be answered. Would the program make me gain weight? Would the other residents like me? Would residential treatment work for me? Would I be able to leave my battle with bulimia behind? These questions nagged me at first but as I embraced my brave new world at the Woodstone Residence, they gradually began to slip away.
As cliché as it sounds, time really did begin to heal me. Slowly I began to trust the recovery process. I leaned into the discomfort of recovery and began to experience a life that I hadn’t dreamed was possible. I realized that I had to let go of a lot of habits, beliefs, and expectations to truly find freedom and joy. It wasn’t until I took the leap and stepped outside my comfort zone that I was able to see that I could have more.
Life is uncertain. Recovery is not linear. I still don’t have all the answers but I am okay with that because the risk is worth the reward. Embracing vulnerability and not letting my fears dictate my choices has saved my life. In fact, I actually HAVE a life now. Everything that I was scared to lose means nothing when compared to the life I have gained today.