This is my update for now. It’s not vulnerable in the slightest. It’s extremely factual and kind of all over the place, in typical Hollyn fashion. But you know what my therapist said to me the other day when I told her about my writer’s block lately? She said just write. Whether I have inspiration at the moment or not…write my thoughts. So that’s what I’m doing.
These last few months have been difficult. There’s no skirting around that. May-August is a time of one anniversary or milestone after another in regards to my treatment and recovery journey. I tend to struggle more during this time (similar to how I struggle during the holidays). I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it through “anniversary season” seamlessly. This never happens as well as I wish it did. It seems to be either massive Bipolar Disorder-induced mood swings as in years past, or eating disorder issues as it was this year. Something always “slips” during these few months. But each year, I make it out alive, stronger than I was before, and with so much more to think about.
Anniversary Season Cont.
This year, my eating disorder reared itself more during “anniversary season”. I’ve had a rough few months, between being over-focused on food and portions, to my Body Dysmorphia really kicking my behind. That being said, I’ve had a whole lot to think about. I realize that I’m actually doing pretty darn well in terms of my recovery, which is great! I’ve worked my butt off for the last 3 years to get to where I am now. I’ve fought through every struggle, every slip, every treatment stay, every therapy, psychiatry, and doctor’s appointment. As Iyanla Vanzant would say, “I’ve done my work” and I continue to do my work. I went back to seeing my eating disorder therapist again this past spring to ensure that the slips I noticed didn’t turn into a full-blown relapse exactly for this reason.
What I’ve Noticed
I’ve noticed that I have a lot of friends, acquaintances, and others I know who are either in treatment, in recovery, or are (or sure seem to be) fully recovered. As I said, I’m actually doing really well in my recovery. However, part of me doesn’t feel fully ready to give up the struggle and the identity of my mental health disorders, particularly the identity of my eating disorder. I’ve lived with my eating disorder in some form or fashion for the last 9 years. Being fully ready to really give up that identity is a difficult concept to grapple with.
Let Me Be Clear
I’m not proud of having an eating disorder. I’m proud of my recovery. I know full-well that an eating disorder itself is nothing to be proud of. The number or lengths of various treatment stays I’ve acquired is nothing to be proud of. I know that my lowest weight, highest weight, length of time battling, etc…none of these are ‘badges of honor’. If anything, recovery is, or should be my badge of honor.
This knowledge doesn’t make letting go of the eating disorder identity that I’ve known for so long any easier.
I’m not “Recovered”
I’m not “recovered” yet. I know that, and in some sick way, it’s reassuring to me. It’s not reassuring because I have any intention of returning to my anorexia. Lord knows that’s not what I want. It’s reassuring because it means I don’t feel the need to uphold the “perfection” image of someone who’s “recovered” or who’s no longer struggling. Yes, I know that sentence screams ‘black-and-white thinking’. I know that no one is perfect, whether they’re outwardly struggling or not. I know that plenty of people, including many of those whom I’m thinking of as I write this, probably struggle and just hide it super well.
Y’all know I’m not one to hide much, for better or for worse. And because I don’t hide, I tend to assume that anyone who doesn’t struggle openly isn’t struggling at all, which I know isn’t right.
“Solid Recovery” & Why I Don’t Like The Term “Recovered”
In my mind, being “recovered” or almost recovered, ever, is scary. That’s part of why I don’t like the term “recovered”. It’s permanent and leaves no room for human or biological error. The thought of ‘solid recovery’ feels more comfortable to me. I feel I’m pretty near solid recovery. There are days where my eating disorder doesn’t seem to effect me at all. Then still, there are days where it or my Body Dysmorphia definitely still effect me. I repeatedly tell myself that, statistically, it takes 7 years to recover from an eating disorder. I’m 3 years into that average 7, so I tell myself to quit putting so much pressure on myself.
I Want To Be A Good Example
Of course I want to be a good example. I want to be a “recovery role model”. I want to spread hope and a message that recovery is possible and 100% worth all the time and effort. The more I think about those goals, the more I realize something. The best way to be the best example I can be is to be vulnerable. It’s to be honest and to be real and to be raw. I feel that being authentic and showing that it’s okay to struggle even though I consider myself to be in a pretty good place in my recovery…that’s the best service I can do to those who read my content.
I don’t feel that putting on an image of perfection amongst the messy-ness of life does anyone any good. Everyone knows about my struggles and my issues. Pretending that everything is sunshine and rainbows simply because a large amount of time has gone by….that doesn’t do me any good. So I can only assume it doesn’t help anyone else out either.