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36 Steps Towards Healing From Trauma

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

  1. Wallow in your own despair for a few weeks, months, years. What happened to you is valid. The wounds are still raw.
  2. Go see a psychiatrist. Talk about what happened. Talk only about half of what happened. Avoid their questions. You’re still not ready to talk about that.
  3. Go to the pharmacy. Pick up the little orange bottle. The pills are small but she said they’ll help. Put your blind faith and basic psychology knowledge into the hope that these tiny blue pills will work.
  4. These pills did not help. Switch from two tiny blue pills every night to three tiny white pills. The molecular structure is different; they’re in the same class, but this one will help. Sign up for therapy.
  5. Break down in your school counselor’s office the next day. Watch your grades slip. Feel helpless.
  6. Take the tiny white pills.
  7. Go to therapy. Break down in the waiting room. Break down in his office. Ask him to turn off the white noise machine. Stare blankly at his bracelet.
  8. Avoid his questions. Go mute. You cannot talk about this.
  9. Take the tiny white pills. Add vitamin D. Someone online said this will help.
  10. Talk about your girlfriend in therapy. Avoid the trauma.
  11. Be hit with the trauma when you get home.
  12. Write about your trauma in therapy. Listen to your therapist read it aloud. Dodge his questions. Talk about how you used to have an eating disorder, but you’re fine now.
  13. Go to McDonald’s. Order an extra large fries, a large Coke, and a Big Mac. Feel your arms and legs go numb from the sugar. It’s the only feelings you’ve felt in awhile.
  14. Take your meds. Aren’t they supposed to be helping?
  15. Study. Not because you want to, not because you genuinely enjoy it, but because if your grades go below a B, your dad will yell. Men yelling reminds you of your trauma.
  16. Have a panic attack. You forgot about the test you have tomorrow.
  17. Go to therapy. This week, talk about it. Feel somewhat freer. Go home and make a sandwich. Have some sliced peaches and a cup of coffee. Throw out the Cheez-Its. They’re gross anyways.
  18. Go for a walk. Listen to jazz.
  19. Tell your girlfriend about your trauma. Tell her your triggers. Play video games with her.
  20. Notice the sunrise is rather pretty during the transition from winter to spring. Paint it. Show your art teacher.
  21. Relapse. Eat another box of Cheez-Its, three breakfast sandwiches and a box of chocolates.
  22. Go to the corner store at midnight to buy a pack of cigarettes. The liminality of a corner store feels like your life. Ask the pimpled cashier to put on jazz music. He puts on a weird fusion of rap and jazz. He looks familiar. He is a personified déjà vu. He looks like who you want to be.
  23. Decide not to buy a pack of cigarettes. Buy a bottle of water. Appreciate how pretty your city is at night. Decide to move to Tokyo.
  24. Be too broke to go to Tokyo.
  25. Talk about your trauma in therapy. Talk about eating, how you eat to feel, even if it feels bad and painful. Your therapist understands.
  26. Hang out with your friends after school. Laugh. Eat peaches. Listen to angsty punk music. Kiss your girlfriend. You never knew love could feel this good. Notice her freckles. Notice how her eyes look like the ocean.
  27. Take your meds. Forget about calories. Notice how pearl-white they are. It’s kind of a pretty color.
  28. Talk about your trauma in therapy. Schedule more therapy sessions.
  29. Get accepted to college. Start to feel things fall into place.
  30. Tell your therapist about college. Try not to feel like he’s a parental figure when he says he’s proud.
  31. Drink some tea. Take a bath. Make banana bread.
  32. Listen to your friend cry. Be there for him. Tell him it’s going to be OK. Help him cope.
  33. Understand this is just the beginning. You will find yourself relapsing. You will probably find yourself crying in the counselor’s office again.
  34. Simultaneously realize sunsets are pretty, girls are pretty and trauma is just a part of your life and you will continue to live and blossom.
  35. Plant flowers in old medicine bottles. They will bloom just like you. Bake a cake. Life will be okay. This cake will be amazing.

Unsplash via @Cherry Laithang

Originally published: October 1, 2018
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