The first time I told my story, it was full of honeymoon anecdotes and comparisons of my new life being visions of Oreo’s with an adequate amount of filling and dogs that never barked when you tried to pet them.
But that wasn’t real.
It was a real-life story painted over with social media gloss – I was still too raw to speak about what recovery was really like.
And in a word, it was brutal.
The moment you step out of treatment for the first time, you feel like the end of a Fast and Furious movie where everyone is walking away in slow motion like a hero away from raging fire and burning demons.
But here’s the truth – no one walks away from a burning scene in slow-motion; you wouldn’t get out alive that way.
You get away as fast as you can, and figure everything else out later.
I had spent so much time over the previous summer fighting with my own mind until it started to realign with reality, and I didn’t want to think that I wasn’t “fixed“; that my condition hadn’t been “cured“.
But mental illnesses aren’t “cured”, mental illness is managed.
And at first, my recovered life outside of treatment WAS a honeymoon; nothing was off-limits and everything was possible; until I found myself trying to do school work at a Starbucks, unable to drink my calorie-filled drink (steamed soy milk with vanilla, it was before my coffee days….)
I stared at the cup for what felt like forever, willing it not to hurt me. I grabbed my phone and spoke with someone I had been in treatment with, and I called my mom. 40 minutes later, I managed to finish my beverage, but the thought that something so simple could suddenly be so scary made me wonder if all that time spent fighting ED was worth it.
Was it worth it if it meant I was still going to endure rough days and difficult meals?
Your most difficult days in recovery are still going to outrank your best days ill. Just because the bright color of Skittles is suddenly blinding, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to override those thoughts and enjoy them.
Just because a hamburger resembles anything BUT a salad doesn’t mean you won’t finish it and be glad that you did.
Whatever you need to get through a meal: viewing the food as fuel for a workout, viewing it as an experiment (“let me eat this meal once and just see what happens) or prefacing the moment with everyone around you so they know to keep the conversation light and OFF the casserole, do it.
You can’t “recover” wrong; rough days, struggled meals, relapses and all.
You’ve still survived, and that was the point from the beginning.
So congratulations, you’re still incredible, despite the dark times.
You’re still a warrior.