Reaching out for help when you have an eating disorder can be extremely hard. The internal dialogue alone can be enough to stop you. Just like it did for me multiple times. The arguments can seem so valid and rational.
After all, you aren’t really that sick, right? Others are worse off than you. I mean you’re still functioning; you still have it under control. You’re eating some and hydrating a bit. It’s not that bad…right?
Those were more or less the exact thoughts that went through my mind every single time I wanted to reach out for help. It wasn’t until I was emotionally and physically exhausted that I was able to reach out for help. And even though I believed I was ready to receive help with my eating disorder, it was still extremely hard to take that first step. I didn’t know where to go. What was I supposed to say? Who was I supposed to talk to? Would they believe me? I had so many questions.
The only logical idea I had was to schedule an appointment with my normal physician. And even then, I was skeptical if she would know what to do with me. Or if she could even assist me in any way. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that making an appointment with her and simply informing her about my current struggle with an eating disorder was all that I had to do. She was more than happy to request a referral to the mental health department. I had an appointment with an intake specialist within the week.
The relief I felt after my intake session was beyond this world. I finally felt as if I was moving in the right direction. And though it was only the first step, it felt amazing to let the secret I had been keeping for years off my chest.
Shortly after my intake session, I was appointed a personal therapist who highly suggested (required) that I stop attending university to enroll in Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (EDIOP) After struggling with the idea of taking a leave of absence, I started EDIOP where I spent four days of the week, 9-5pm. in a supervised treatment center for almost six months.
EDIOP was the most challenging experience I have ever had. I cried and yelled throughout the entire thing. It was hard work. All the skeletons that had been hiding in my closet were coming out to play, and it was terrifying.
However hard it may have been, looking back now, I wish I had reached out so much sooner than I did. I wish I would have enlisted professionals who were trained to help individuals like me, instead of believing in the illusion that I could heal myself.
It’s important to remember that recovery is different for every individual who struggles with an eating disorder. Some days it will feel like sunshine, rainbows, puppies and all the freshly baked brownies you can imagine. Other days may bring you to your knees. But that does not mean life after your eating disorder is not worth it. Give yourself the opportunity to live the life you were meant to have.
I never thought recovery would be possible. But here I am, twenty-seven years old, currently working towards my Master’s in Clinical Psychology: Marriage Family Therapy. I have been out of treatment for almost three years now. I am no longer restricting. I am binge and purge free. The only treatment I still attend is meeting with a group of women who have also dealt with an eating disorder and come out the other side.
Choose recovery. Choose life. But more importantly, choose yourself, because you are enough.
If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder I implore you to reach out for help. It doesn’t have to be a doctor. It could be a family member or close friend. But I urge you to seek help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of courage, strength and hope. Because the truth is, you can’t fight your eating disorder alone. None of us can. But why should we?
Please, do not wait any longer. Utilize the many resources available to you. If you are not sure where to start, I have compiled a list of resources to assist you.
NEDA Eating Disorder Screening: For those who are unsure if they are struggling with an eating disorder this screening tool can help you decide if it’s time to seek help. It’s appropriate for those 13 years of age and older.
NEDA Hotline: Contact the helpline for support or treatment options. If you do not prefer talking to someone, NEDA also has an instant messaging option. Hours and holiday closures can be found here as well.
NEDA Treatment Database: If you need help with finding treatment this database will be the best tool. You will be able to search for treatment specific to your location, eating disorder, insurance, etc.