Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2019

It’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW). And, as a result, a lot of emotions come up. I write because I want to make room for all of it. The pain, the sadness, the passion, the determination, the guilt, the shame, the excitement, the envy, the nervousness, the encouragement, the hope, the fear, the pride… Whatever the emotion, it’s all okay and there’s a place for it within (and outside of) this week. Why? Because, that’s a huge piece of what recovery is all about. Awareness and acceptance. Realizing you are where you are and you’re doing the best that you can (while also maybe being able to do better). That where you were last (EDAW) is not a testament of where you’ll be this year or where you’ll be in ten years. It’s just where you are now. Maybe you (or your loved one) is struggling this year whereas last year you were leading the fight. Maybe you’ve recently decided to give recovery a shot or maybe you’ve taken a break on the mountain of recovery. Wherever you are, you matter. Your life, your voice, your experience, it matters and it’s an important piece of this week. It’s all part of the recovery journey. And, it’s messy and raw. It’s filled with moments of incredibly joy while also moments of deep sorrow and grief. 

This year, I encourage everyone to take stalk of what their needs during the week and to act in a way that practices self-care and compassion. Perhaps, it means saying,“No” to an event here or there versus trying to catch them all (check out NEDIC or the WWEDC for EDAW events near you). Maybe it means practicing opposite action by going to an event, challenging the shame that says you “can’t” because you’re struggling. Reflect on the emotions that get invoked this week and talk about them, if you can, with a friend, with a therapist, with a nurse, with a co-patient, with a family member.  And, if you can’t, notice that. Register that there’s something that’s getting in the way of that versus ignoring it. Maybe, a time will come where you will want to reach out. And, if there’s one thing that is evident about this week, there is a lot of people (professionally and non-professionally) who want to journey along side you regardless of where you are in your recovery. To spread (and at times hold) the hope that there is life in recovery from an eating disorder. 

I Know You're Going to Struggle...

To My Clients:

I know you're going to struggle from time to time when you see me. I don't expect your recovery to be perfect. And when you struggle, and make choices and/or decisions that aren't in line with the goals we have set up in therapy, I hope you use it as an opportunity to learn something, instead of beating yourself up for it. I recognize, it may take more than a handful of times where you stop working, go backwards, act impulsively or lose hope. And when this happens, I hope you can trust the support team (myself included), who are still there holding hope for you. 

I want you to know... that even though it seems easier to go back to what you know... you don't have to. I know this doesn't sound easy... but it is that simple. Even after messing up, you can still show up to your next session if there's an inkling of wanting to keep working towards recovery. It's also okay to take time to figure out what it is that you really want. I won't chase you though. And, this might seem like I don't care... I'm just trying to teach you the skills we practice in session... like boundaries. I'm trying to teach you to challenge that voice in your head that tells you that I'm mad at you or that what you've done is "too bad". I want you to make the choice... to get to the point where you're the one making the decision... for yourself.... because YOU want it. And, if you think you still want to work, however don't think it's with me any more... that's okay! You have that right as it is your treatment. You won't hurt my feelings... maybe we could talk about this decision before you go though... but I know that's not always the case. 

My understanding and expectation that you will struggle doesn't mean I don't care. It's the opposite. Knowing you will struggle from time to time, and that the door is still open for you to come back (as long as it's not enabling), is a way to show compassion, understanding, empathy, concern, patience, hope, commitment and so much more. And if coming back was thought to be enabling, we would talk about that... Again, not because I don't care, but because I'm trying to do my part in helping you get better. 

I want you to know that you and I... we're not so different. When I was on the other side of the couch, I fought against this idea the entire time... until I realized it was true. I truly hope you get to the place where you realize that you matter... that you have value and worth... I hope you get to the point where the times of struggles become farther and farther apart... Until then... I'm willing to work if you are. You know where to find me.


Autobiography In Five Chapters - Portia Nelson

1) I walk down the street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 
I fall in. 
I am lost... I am hopeless. 
It isn't my fault. 
It takes forever to find a way out. 

2) I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 
I pretend I don't see it. 
I fall in again. 
I can't believe I'm in the same place. 
But it isn't my fault. 
It still takes a long time to get out. 

3) I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 
I see it is there. 
I still fall in... it's a habit. 
My eyes are open. 
I know where I am. 
It is my fault. 
I get out immediately. 

4) I walk down the same street. 
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 
I walk around it. 

5) I walk down another street.