Join Em for the second installment of her writing series as she moves through a higher level of care for ED treatment.
** The program that I am currently receiving treatment under offers both Partial Hospitalization Programming (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP). While I continue to receive care under the PHP program, the transition was recently made from 10 hours to 6 hours each day. This is a letter to myself. As I reflect on what I have learned during the transition into having more personal accountability for meals and snacks, further exploring my relationship with movement, and continuing to develop supportive interpersonal relationships.
A Letter to Myself as I Transition in Care
You’ve officially made it through the first weeks. Congrats! You’ve done so many things that you thought you never could. You’ve taken an extended break from movement-and you’ve survived. You’ve told your life story to an entire group of strangers and nobody turned their back on you. You’ve had desserts with lunch, corndogs for snack, and ice cream at ten AM. You’ve developed relationships with a new therapist, a new dietician, and an amazing group of humans.You have begun to develop a stronger sense of self; and in doing so have ignited new passions. You’ve set family boundaries, built stronger foundations in friendships, and established trust in vulnerability with your partner.
You are in the program you wanted. You are in the PNW, surrounded by mountains and evergreens and friends who love you unconditionally. But, be honest. You know when this journey started you weren’t doing it for you. You were doing it out of the fear of losing your treatment team. You were doing it to prove something. You were doing it because you were desperate. This was your last chance. But, this journey has already become so much more than “another opportunity to prove you were not ‘sick enough’ to actually need treatment.”
Yes, your team is important to you. They got you to where you are today. You can be grateful for that-they were there when you didn’t know how to show up for yourself. Yes, your partner loves you unconditionally and they would be devastated if you didn’t come home. You can use that love to build trust, because you know you don’t have to do this alone. You started this journey because of everyone else in your life-for the sake of everyone else in your life. Now you’re here with a vision of life beyond the eating disorder. You have dreams. You have goals. You are happy. You have to do recovery for you. This is for you, not anyone else.
Remember to be realistic. You’ve had your first bad day and you are going to have more. You went into this knowing that “perfect” recovery isn’t possible. Thank you for being open to stumbling; because your response to this bad day was different. You gave yourself grace. You felt your emotions and honored the behaviors that you’ve relied on to get you through these moments. You acknowledged you were experiencing emotion; and rode the wave as long as you could. You made the decision to continue to choose recovery. You didn’t self sabotage or spiral; and because of that you have started to build trust in yourself.
You have learned a lot in these first few weeks, but one of the most important lessons: You don’t have to push yourself every day. I know you like challenges. You are competitive and you want to win- even against yourself. But pushing every day will get overwhelming. Recovery isn’t a race. On the days that you’re feeling the heavy emotions. When you feel like you’re not deserving of recovery. When your body and your mind are tired and you need rest in all regards, take a break. It’s okay to [briefly] rely on what is safer or easier. You can let yourself rest and recharge. You do not need to beat yourself and you cannot beat the eating disorder without giving yourself a break.
And on those days when the emotions get really big. When they’re unfamiliar and scary and you’re not sure what to do with them. Sit with them, don’t hide them. Those emotions have been hiding for years. They have led to pain and self punishment. You’ve mastered masking. The eating disorder protected you for years, but you desire authentic relationships and that requires emotional vulnerability. You have to let people in; you have to let yourself in. Don’t lock the pain inside. Don’t hide when new emotions make their way to the surface. When those tears sting your eyes and that lump in your throat grows, don’t just swallow and wish it away. Keeping everything inside is only going to further provide for the eating disorder. Let your raw emotions show. Let the real you shine. You sparkle. You really do.