Eating disorder update? almost two years later.

by Elizabeth on July 30, 2013

I haven’t written anything eating disorder related lately, so I wanted to fill you in on what’s been happening this summer. I have wanted to write for a while but honestly I didn’t know where to start. As I’ve mentioned before, this time two years ago I was in inpatient treatment in Denver. When I came home the last week of August, I began going to an outpatient facility close to home (well actually it’s not that close? but it’s worth the hour drive one way!) I have been going there twice a week religiously for two years now and it has changed my life.

A few months ago, I started thinking I was ready to move on. As helpful as treatment is, I don’t want my life to BE treatment, and I’ve heard my therapist say countless times that keeping someone in a level of care that’s not right for them, whether it’s too much or too little support, can be detrimental. I started to think about what my life would be like without group twice a week. How would I fill my time? How would I do with less support? Would my team even agree that I was ready? I was actually scared that they wouldn’t think I was ready so I didn’t say anything for a few months. A few weeks ago I was in a session with my therapist and we were talking and I just kind of blurted out? “I think I’m ready to leave group.” She said that she and the dietician had actually discussed that the week before and she agreed that I am ready to move on! 

I decided to transition out slowly, just in case it’s harder than I’m anticipating. I can always go back if I need to. For the month of August I’m just doing one day a week and then the plan in September is to transition out of the group completely and just do individual work. 

I’m excited to feel like I’m getting another piece of my life back. And proud that I stuck with it for this long. And so grateful for the incredible support given to me by my family and friends. I still have work to do, but I’m healthier and happier than I’ve been in years.

Let’s take a picture break! Here are some family pictures we took last week.

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On to some harder things. Watching anyone you care about struggle with something is hard. It really hits close to home for me when what they are struggling with is an eating disorder. Over the past six months, I have seen two people I care about deeply (a friend and a family member) really struggle with eating disorders. It’s terrifying. I think it’s been helpful in some ways for me to feel the worry, concern, and helpless that others felt towards me. It motivates me to stay recovery focused. It’s also been a great opportunity to offer support if someone is open to it. I can’t control what anyone else does but I can control my attitude toward them. The people who have helped me most in recovery have been consistently loving, nonjudgmental, and compassionate. They allowed me to struggle through things and figure out on my own how to overcome it. What a gift that has been! As tempting as it is to sweep in and try to “fix” someone who’s hurting, if someone is always rescuing you you have no room to learn how to independently navigate your struggles, which in my opinion actually further drives an eating disorder. One of the purposes eating disorders serve is to escape the discomfort and uncertainty of life by using food because you don’t know how to effectively face life as it presents its challenges. By becoming more skillful at this you find yourself with less of a need to use food/weight/exercise etc. as the scapegoat. As hard as both of these situations have been, it’s been a good practice in letting go of the need to control my environment, and also a helpful motivator for ME to stay on the right track. I can pray and offer support in whatever way they need and I am capable of providing. (I realize sometimes interventions are needed if someone is in a life threatening situation, fortunately neither of my experiences came to that point.)

So that’s my update for you! Please let me know if elaborating on anything would be helpful (related to me). Has anyone else had experiences similar to these?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele July 30, 2013 at 6:14 am

You are an amazing woman and I so admire your willingness to share your struggles. I sincerely hope that someone reading is helped by your story. Best of luck in this next chapter! And, I pray that those close to you going through their own struggles come out stronger very soon!
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2 Laura @losingrace July 30, 2013 at 6:32 am

Congrats on moving forward, takes a lot to be able to discuss these things openly and that says a lot about how incredible you are and how much your treatment really has helped you. Keep your head up and keep moving forward, there are great things ahead!
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3 Amy @ Long Drive Journey July 30, 2013 at 7:09 am

It’s really hard to make the decision that you’re ready to move forward. It takes a lot of courage – good luck with your transition! I’m really happy for you. Also, you never know how much your own story can serve as inspiration and hope to those around you who are suffering from the same thing that you did.
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4 Wendy@ All Kinds of Miles July 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and think it’s so amazing that you really took charge of your health when you got pregnant. I’m sure it’s been a difficult journey sometimes, but so worth it, right? It’s heartbreaking to watch people you love not take care of themselves, however that looks, but I think just being available and willing to listen is sometimes the best thing you can do!

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5 Toni July 30, 2013 at 7:34 am

I have enjoyed reading your motivational story- you are strong- thanks for sharing :)

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6 Debbie @ DebRuns July 30, 2013 at 7:47 am

Congrats on staying with your program and making it to the point of going on your own. The tools you’ve learned along the way will make you a great asset to your friend and family member when trying to help them. No one knows better than you about the best way to approach and help them.
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7 Corrine @ Eat Run Wine July 30, 2013 at 7:48 am

You are doing so well, and such an inspiration! I usually cope with exercise, almost at an unhealthy level (hence the overtraining injury..) and I’ve been struggling these past few days without that outlet. My husband is a saint and is super encouraging, but I needed to read something like this and remind myself that I don’t have to let it control my life again. Thank you!
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8 Sandy July 30, 2013 at 8:01 am

So glad that you are doing so well. You are a strong and motivational woman and I wish you continued success in all that you do :)

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9 Lisa July 30, 2013 at 8:13 am

It sounds like you’ve grown so much throughout this experience and learned a lot about yourself from it. I’m sorry you have to watch a friend struggle in the same way you did, I’ve had to go through that myself and it’s really hard to watch people fall down the hole you once fell down yourself.
Congrats to you for moving forward in your journey and staying strong.
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10 Carly @ Snack Therapy July 30, 2013 at 8:15 am

You’re amazing. I’m so glad you’re doing so well. It’s kind of incredible that now you’re able to help other people through similar situations. Oh, how the tables turn. I’m sending so many good vibes to you during this transition!
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11 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries July 30, 2013 at 9:18 am

This makes me so happy! I’m so glad things are continuing to look up for you. It sounds like you have a great husband and support system too, which is so important.

Cute family photos too! ;)
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12 Andrea R. @ Morning Runner Girl July 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

So inspiring… thank you thank you for keeping us in the loop. I have just started the recovery process and have weekly meetings with my “team” of nutritionist, therapist, and doctor. It has been going well… still some very hard days. It has been hard to see my body change shape and size… more “rolls” when I sit down. Also, my running times have been getting slower… these are things that are hard for me to accept. I just have to keep in mind how important it is for me to get healthy, get my period, get my bones strong, and get my mind to realize that I am so so so much more than food/fitness/running/looks/etc.

Thank you for being so real with us… I wish you and your family all the best!
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13 Amy @ Run Mom Run July 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

Your family pictures are beautiful! I expected nothing less with a family as good lookin’ as yours though!

I love that you’ve had the opportunity to get the other perspective of a situation like this. I was just telling my coach yesterday that one of the things that helps me change my running form the most is when I see someone have the same problem I keep hearing I have and I can see it in action. This is kind of the same way. You can see an eating disorder in action from the other perspective and see how far you’ve come and the strength in yourself. And you are in a unique position to help these people should they choose to accept it.

I love that you’re strong enough to stop going to regular group therapy. Although you may have to be conscious of your habits your entire life, to be continually healthy you don’t want to be constantly in active therapy! That probably brings on it’s own set of problems!
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14 Liz @ The Girl on Fire Now July 30, 2013 at 10:07 am

Those pictures are adorable :)
Thank you for being so open about what is going on in your life – you are very relatable and a very strong woman :)
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15 Alyssa @ See This Girl Run July 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

Congratulations, Elizabeth! That’s so huge! I know you’ll continue to improve and be the amazing person that you are. You’ve got this. You also have a lot of people cheering you on. That definitely is a sign of strength to recognize when you’re ready to change the situation to become even better.

Secondly, your family pictures are soooo cute!!! The one with the reflection and then that last one are my favorites. You guys are a great looking family :)
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16 Kristin July 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

Congratulations!! :) Eating disorder recovery is so difficult and you are a great example of someone who is conquering the challenge! That is very encouraging for readers and your personal loved ones who are struggling! With your current level of treatment, do you still get weighed? Is there a certain BMI that your facility wanted you to reach to be considered healthy?

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17 Cori @ olivetorun July 30, 2013 at 11:36 am

Congratulations for entering the next step! You are an inspiration to many people and I love how open you are about your life and journey. xo
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18 char eats greens July 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Gah!! Your family is so perfect looking!! Thanks for sharing!! It’s awesome to hear that you were on the same page with your counseling and hoping the one day a week really serves you better :)
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19 Jenn July 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

It’s brave to share your story and I know many people will find it inspiring to relate to someone who is transitioning out of treatment. It’s great that you recognize that you may struggle with not having the group despite knowing it is no longer right for you so you should celebrate making such a strong and smart decision! :)
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20 Sarah @ A Refining Adventure July 30, 2013 at 4:23 pm

First of all, you have a gorgeous family. Second of all, I completely relate to you. I too drive an hour each way once a week for outpatient treatment. I meet with my therapist and then nutritionist. For me, I know I still need the weekly support, but am looking forward to a time when I won’t need it so much. Your story is so inspirational to me that a normal, healthy, balanced life is out there. Not to say it doesn’t come with struggles and I won’t need help, but you really are a great example of recovery. I agree with you that those who have been most helpful on my journey are completely loving, understanding, and non-judgemental. Thank you for being so willing to let us into your recovery and for sharing this aspect of your life.
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21 Aunt LALA July 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Ebis,

I am so very proud of you and hope you consider me on that list of people you can always turn to for support and REAL answers/comments/love/support and no judgement. You have been such a source of strength for me too. I am so very proud that you have tackled your own demons way earlier in life than I did. It took me years and years to understand that I wasn’t nuts but had some really odd patterns that I was born with…. It’s taken me longer to accept the fact that I am morally a vey sound human being and my flaws of the flesh do not define me. I define them :-))

So do not ever think that anyone in your family judges you, my love because we all admire you even for those who don’t understand… You my dear are very loved!!! The truth is there is not one of us who isn’t struggling with something. A addiction for alcohol, drugs, self-pity, self love, porn, food, exercise, religion, learning, sugar, anger, hate, shopping, gambling, hunting, judgment… the list is endless!!!! The cool thing that comes with lots of living, falling down and compassion is you understand that none of it matters at all without acceptance from your family and the ones you love. At the end of the day – we all need the urn for that… Fortunately you and me have that in spades….

I love you very much…..

Your crazy Aunt LALA :-)))

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22 misszippy July 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Be pat on the back to you! I’m sure making a move like that is never easy, but it sounds like you knew you were ready. Best wishes for the strength and support you’ll need moving forward!
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23 Jojo July 31, 2013 at 9:07 am

You are an incredibly strong person to have come this far in your recovery. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I myself have fought an eating disorder for years, and you are truly an inspiration to me. I wish someday, I could be as open about my struggles as you are.
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24 Sheena August 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm

It brings me so much joy to see you doing so well. You have a beautiful family! I was thinking of you as I was running today. You have been such a great inspiration to me! 2 years later, I am finally actively living life and loving it! I am doing my first half marathon in a few years in 3 months as well as some other races leading up to it. I am so excited and nervous at the same time. Its something I love and fear bc I know my nutrition has to stay strong, but I am done living in fear, so I am tackling it head on, and well-just simply taking care of my body the way it needs to be! Each day presents its challenges, but I know that I can take them on. I totally related to being nervous about stepping down treatment a few months ago, but it was time. I have gained so much from everything I’ve learned and all the amazing people I have met, though an arduous path, I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t gone through the things I did. Anyways, I just wanted to say you are amazing, and thank you for being you and sharing your inspirational journey with everyone! :)

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