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The Greatest Gift My Therapist Has Given Me

I’ve been in treatment for anorexia for nine months now. There have been major milestones: being weight restored, accepting anorexia (which contrary to my deeply held belief, does not require a certain look) and getting a new (and more challenging) job. There have also been slips and falls where I have relied upon my support system to refocus my recovery.

When I first started treatment, I was very cautious. Given my brief past experiences, I was reluctant to entrust another individual with what really had become my darkest secret. However, I was in a state where mentally and physically, I needed some intervention.

 

I had reached my lowest weight in my entire adult life, and I was ecstatic. In fact, my weight was probably one of the few things that got me excited anymore, or sent me into a downward spiral of self-loathing. Physically, I was freezing cold; my hands were like ice cubes. I experienced muscle and joint pain; my hair was falling out in the shower. My skin was grayish, thin on my face. I was weak and tired. Cognitively, I was fixated on food, exercise, numbers and rules. While my perfectionist and obsessive nature helped maintain my grades, I barely absorbed any information. I have very few memories of this time. Emotionally, I was constantly irritated. I was unable to healthily manage my emotions. I felt empty, disinterested and flat.

I had no hope. Every day was the same.

That is the gift my therapist has given me. Hope.

If you have ever seen “Star Wars: Rogue One,” you know that “rebellions are built on hope.” The emphasis here is clear — hope is built through support.

For these past nine months, the support of my psychologist has been fundamental. As the months passed by (and the calories increased), I started to believe that maybe things would get better. I began talking with my family more, playing with my mom’s dog, socially engaging at work. Sometimes, I wake up OK with the challenges of the day rather than feeling an empty dread that would soon be numbed with apathy.

Unfortunately, recovery is not linear. Anorexia feeds on my vulnerabilities, devalues me for healthy weight gain and tries to tempt me into using self-destructive behaviors. It will never be satisfied.

I realize I have a lot of work to do.

Yet, I feel the sun on my face and fully appreciate the beauty of summer flowers.

That is progress.

More importantly, that is hope.

To my therapist,

I cannot thank you enough.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via kieferpix

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