I guess I could talk about how my life was a confused mess before recovery but that makes it sound like since recovery my life has been a perfectly ordered mess. It hasn’t. Things have not magically become perfect since being in recovery. That’s not how recovery works. What does happen is your approach to difficulty situations and your self-awareness and perspective changes.
Before recovery (right before recovery) I was living in California with friends and I was struggling. I was bingeing on fast food every other day (if not every day) and I was only sometimes eating appropriate amounts of food. Every week or so I would try dieting again. I would make a plan to restrict how many calories I was eating down to low numbers and I’d clear out the fridge and I’d tell myself this time was going to be right. This time I’d stick to the diet and I’d lose all the weight I wanted to lose and it would be good. This time it would work. And then a couple days later I would be back in the drive-thru late at night bingeing and hating myself. I would get so down on myself for bingeing and ruining my diet. I wouldn’t eat the food I meal prepped because I wasn’t food I liked or wanted and instead I would go out and get food. Even when I went out to get food I would tell myself I was going to get a small amount of food. Not get everything “large” sized and it would be okay. It rarely if ever happened. I’d get what I always got and I’d eat it all.
This was my week in week out existence and it wasn’t getting better. The bingeing was only getting worse and the weight loss kept failing. Instead I kept gaining weight as my doctor would remind me. Every month I would go in to see her and tell her I wanted to lose weight and she’d present me with a new option and I’d try it. Always feeling like when I tried and failed I was letting her down too.
So one day at work I decided to google “eating disorder support groups near me” and up popped a link that listed eating disorder groups in the area. I have known about my eating disorder since college (maybe the end of high school?). But in college I was aware that what I was doing to lose weight was eating disorder behaviors. But to me I just thought that since I had decided to start using eating disorder behaviors I could shut it off at any time. Which was not the truth. But anyways, back to where I was, I looked through the groups and saw one was meeting the next night and it was free. I called the number of the therapist online and she called me back and told me to show up to group the next night and where it was held.
The next night was so nervous. I was worried I didn’t belong or that I’d be the fattest one there. Or that I would hate it and I’d be trapped in the room for the whole hour and a half. But that’s not what happened. Two things happened. One, there was another girl there who was as fat as me, if not fatter, and she seemed to know she belonged there. So maybe I did too. Two, one girl sitting on the couch was so direct and blunt that I was in awe of her and her honesty. I appreciated her ability to call people out but in a caring way. And also loved that she was so calm about the whole experience. They welcomed me into the group immediately and no one questioned whether I should or shouldn’t have been there. At the end of group they all gave me their phone numbers and told me to come back. I came back the next week and the next week. I went every single week up until going to treatment a few months later.
It was in this group that I learned about what recovery was. I didn’t even know recovery existed. I learned about how to fight back against my eating disorder and what quirks or behaviors came from my eating disorder. I learned how to support other women and girls in their recovery and I made friends. It was amazing. It was thanks to the women in the group that I made the decision to go to treatment in February of 2017 (5 months after I started going to group).
I think in my time in group I was in quasi-recovery. I didn’t know exactly how to be in recovery or what I needed to do to succeed. I didn’t have a therapist who specialized in eating disorders yet so I didn’t really have the support I needed.
I consider the beginning of going to that group as the beginning of my recovery but I also consider the day I went to treatment an important date in my recovery. And the day I left treatment is also important to me because that was the first time I had to do it on my own really.
So that’s what my life was like before treatment. This is the shortened version. I’ve had my eating disorder since I was 9 or 10 years old and so this is just the tip of the iceberg. But for the sake of a blog post and not a novel I’ll keep it to this.