Now that I’m a post-grad…

I “graduated” IOP two weeks ago. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal (very few people graduate – they either move down, or move out/quit). There was a rock ceremony which sounds silly but it was very humbling, hearing people I thought I barely knew say wonderful things about me. Afterwards, I felt like celebrating, only I didn’t know who would understand why I’d want to celebrate. So I drove home, stopping for a hot fudge 

sundae. Sounds odd, doesn’t it, to leave ED treatment and have ice cream, but for me, eating formerly fear foods was a perfect way to end that phase.

People have asked me what the past two weeks have been like. It’s hard to say. On the one hand, I love having my time back but I miss my friends and the staff at IOP. I’m seeing my psych 2x a week plus my dietician every other week, and it’s a 45 minute drive each way, so I still have quite a schedule commitment. But I’ve lapsed a little. Restricted a little. Bought some diet metabolism stupid drink mix that probably doesn’t do anything but I was so upset at my last weigh-in with my dietician, I had to do something. Or so I thought. Today I skipped breakfast. I skimped on lunch. I had an odd dinner, and no snacks. I will have my evening snack though as it helps me sleep. Sleep for me is the biggest trigger for everything – stress, anxiety, depression, ED… and so it is my biggest priority.

I talked to my sponsor today and I realized that I’ve been driving the relationship. Instead I asked her what she would have me do. She wants me to pray and check in each morning, and pray and list 5 accomplishments each night. I’ve tried it before but have never been consistent, but now it’s on my calendar and I’m going to really push to do it. Without the commitment of IOP, I need to make my own commitment to recovery – which means daily, routine work on moving forward with real accountability. That’s something I never quite felt at IOP – the building on previous work to move toward recovery. But they helped me stabilize enough that now I can take it from here, with a lot of support.

I wonder about the men and women who don’t have the benefit of having found EDA (or ABA, or OA, or CODA, or whatever 12 step group works for you). I wonder about those who fight this on their own, perhaps without a world-renowned psychologist and ED researcher, a nutritionist who specializes in EDs, an outstanding psychiatrist, and a medical team that includes an APRN who had an ED herself. What about those who don’t have 100% coverage from insurance for IOP – or who don’t have IOP programs near them?

As I think about next steps, I know I want to be a public figure in my field. I’m passionate about it, I’m good at it, and I enjoy speaking and challenging ideas. But I wonder if I’d ever have the courage to fight for the silent voices who struggle with EDs. The men and women who don’t fit the mold, who aren’t supported, and who think they are alone. I wish I could now, but I’m forcing myself to cut back, not add on.

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