After 16 days, I was scared of going home. Treatment was safe. I had people around me to hold me to the rules of recovery and who had no fear of calling me out if I did stupid ED things. The daily routine I’d settled into, the friends I’d made, my therapist who could unravel my brain – these defined the safety I felt at Melrose.
I didn’t have to worry about the people living their lives outside. My whole world for those 16 days was the 3rd floor where I lived, the 2nd floor where I met my therapist, and the first floor where I did yoga.
I didn’t have to make lesson plans, grade papers, settle arguments between my children, get up at 4:30 to go running, clean the house, do laundry besides my own, worry about what I was going to wear (I only had about 3 outfits to choose from and they all had to do with jogging pants), pay bills. Basically, I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself, and for those 16 days, that was okay. It was what I needed.
So when the time to be dismissed drew near, I got scared. I feared my ability to focus on fighting ED when life got in the way. I feared that my old life would pull me back to ED simply because home was drenched in his memories and the old way of doing things.
I needed practical tips for recovery at home. I had encouragement. I had support. I had faith. I had coping mechanisms. I had determination. But without the practical, on the ground methods for making myself successful in recovery, the encouragement, support, faith, and coping would have no focus in which to help me. I needed practicality. That was the medicine for my recovery.
The day before I left treatment, one of the nurses sat down with me to give me helpful advice for being successful in my recovery at home. Bless that woman! I know she was doing her job, and she did it for everyone, but like all the staff at my treatment facility, she did it in a way that made me feel loved and seen. She cared and wanted me to be successful at home, and so I trusted her words.
Her tips were practical and logical. They were daily life hacks for the eating disorder recoverer. And I believe that what she told me gave me a leg up in my march toward an ED-free life. I listened to her because she met me where I needed her to at that moment. Her care for me as I transitioned home made a difference in my life.
Practical Tips for Recovery at Home
- Throw out any full length mirrors. Don’t tempt yourself to use the mirror to size yourself up and then throw yourself under the bus. Mirrors do not measure the quality of your life.
- Get rid of the scale. The scale used to terrify me because I feared it would show me that I had gained a half a pound. I haven’t stepped on a scale in 3 years. And I’m happier because I don’t know the exact number of my weight.
- Get rid of all your old clothes, including underwear. My old clothes were a remember of the size I used to be. If those clothes remained in my closet, I would never be able to forget and move on from that size of my body. Now, I don’t have any measure of the size I used to be, and I don’t remember. That leaves me wide open to be content with where I’m at right now rather than discontent because I’m not what I once was.
- Don’t look in the mirror when trying on new jeans. Pull the jeans on and take a moment to feel how you feel in them. Don’t let the mirror tell you if they fit. Let your body decide.
- Hide labels on the food that you buy. Have a stash of those sticky name tags you get when you go to conferences, and without staring at the label while doing it, slap one of the tags right over that label so you are not tempted to obsess over the calorie count or the fat grams.
- Show your meal plan to someone else. If another human knows what you are supposed to be eating, they can hold you accountable and make sure you aren’t restricting again.
I did everything that nurse told me, because I trusted her. The practical tips for recovery at home that she gave me set my fear at ease. I had marching orders. I had tangible ways to fight off ED. Until I was able on my own to discern and fight the triggers of my eating disorder, I needed to do everything I could to rid myself of temptations that would cause me to slide. Practical, logical, tangible guidelines to fight the fear of being on my own, away from the safety of treatment.
Be good to yourself. Don’t make life harder than it has to be. If you know something is going to trigger you, don’t put yourself in a position to be triggered. It’s as simple as that. Truly wanting recovery means putting recovery in your way, not your eating disorder. That’s not being weak, that’s being smart.
ED has made us mindless followers for too long – and by too long – I mean even a day of believing ED is too long. So don’t be mindless, friend. Find your support. Be your own best advocate.
That’s my advice for today. Trust this person behind these words, because I care about you and I want you to recover. I see you, my dear friend. We are in this together.