It's Friday and today I'll be discussion recovery and what that means for me and the obstacles surrounding recovery for myself and others who seek treatment.
When I finally chose treatment and made that decision. With that choice came the reality that I had to give many things up to enter treatment. I had to leave work on short-term disability, giving up partial income, and relinquishing most of my days for treatment. I have to point out my privilege surrounding my ability to go to treatment. I was employed by a company where short-term disability was possible. I also could afford the cost of treatment beyond insurance coverage. Finally, there is also privilege in the fact that I was a female seeking treatment for an eating disorder.
So, what was treatment? And how did it move me closer to recovery? First, it was a choice, an active decision that I needed a change in my life. From that, I started heading in that direction. Leaving work, telling friends and family, and preparing myself. I started treatment in a Partial Hospitalization Program which was 10 Hours a day, from 8am to 6pm.
Each day included supervised meals, check-ins with nurses, individual therapy, group therapy, and other time to just connect with ourselves and others in treatment. We had no phones, no outer connection - just that space. It allows you to really recognize where you needed to grow.
Many family and friends I loved didn't understand why such intense treatment was required, but let me explain why it was. In some ways, my eating disorder was an addiction to food. It was something I craved all the time. But, I couldn't just quit my addiction in that sense. We need food to survive - I had to eat each day and still do. I couldn't just stop, I needed food in my house - which continued to make it possible to binge on anything that was there. Even if I didn't want it. Treatment gave me the power to do what I needed.
However, recovery is not just treatment in a treatment center. Many can't go into treatment but that doesn't invalidate their recovery. My recovery was what I needed and what was possible for me, but it is not the same as everyone's. Some find support in online communities, with their therapists, through friends and family, and so many other places. My treatment lasted six weeks but recovery will always be ongoing. Directly following treatment I was set up with a dietician, therapist, and psychiatrist. My current plan is therapy every other week and keeping up with my medications. I keep up with friends from treatment (though we weren't supposed to keep talking) which offers me even further support. And now - I want to use my time in recovery to speak about my eating disorders and empower and advocate others on eating disorders and other mental illnesses.
Part of recovery and entering treatment in any form (at a treatment center, therapy, or dieticians) money is a part of that conversation. It is an unfortunate reality that many people cannot access any form of treatment due to cost. One reason I no longer see a psychiatrist or dietitian is due to cost. Therapy costs so much money and finding any providers that are covered by insurance is almost impossible. This is due to the providers who are covered often aren't taking new patients, or do not have experience with eating disorders or other necessary pieces of patients health histories.
In treatment insurance was spoke about so often, many of us were fighting insurance companies to fight for coverage and explain why we needed to be there. Including me. It was a battle from start to finish, and even continued after I left. It blows my mind that so many of us in treatment were so sick, but insurance companies were able to decide coverage wasn't medically necessary. However they would say we should still stay in treatment (as to avoid liability) but that they just wouldn't cover it. These companies would refuse to listen to the medical suggestions given by the treatment centers. I was one of many who left treatment earlier than suggested due to insurance choices. Luckily, I have been able to find a stable support system beyond the walls of treatment.
Recovery is a lifetime choice, we have good days and bad days. There are no true cures for eating disorders, but we can have plenty of good in our lives. Most of my days are good, but sometimes I fall into the trap of believing my eating disorder is gone. Then the voice of my eating disorder returns, quiet and still. Sitting in the back of my mind, waiting for my walls to come down then jumps to the forefront of my mind to remind me it still exists.
Each time this happens, I push it back into its box - usually after a relapse and try to father myself back together. For me recovery has been mostly about knowing there is no one path to health. Recovery is a healthy relationship with food, listening to my body and not my eating disorder, and doing what I love. Not allowing anything to hold me back.
Each day is new - a chance to turn back to my eating disorder or continue forward. Charging towards self-acceptance, total body love, and complete health.