It’s day one of my vacation, and with any luck, I’m en route to some peace and quiet right now. For my first special guest post, I want to welcome one of my favorite bloggers: Melissa from Trying to Heal.
I met Melissa when I was in Miami last year, but I had been reading her work for well over a year before that. I love her simple recipes, her environmentalism, and her humor, but most of all I love how courageously and honestly she discusses the long, bumpy road to ED recovery. I especially admire her side note series, in which she talks about the post-recovery struggles so many of us have had — weight gain, weight maintenance, giving up obsessive habits. Few people can discuss what it means to live with an ED history as honestly as she.
For that reason, I wanted Melissa to write on the topic of ED recovery today, and I gave her the choice of what to say. She wrote back with the following post on the importance of counseling/therapy, and I could not be more thrilled. Outpatient therapy was a huge part of my own recovery–more than anything else, it was what helped me to realize that I did indeed have a problem–and as a nutritional counselor who now works with many women with ED pasts, I see how crucial the therapy experience is in others’ healing experiences, too. When women who are actively suffering from EDs ask me for help, my first order of business is to recommend not my services, but formal counseling and therapy. One day, I say, I’ll be able to help them with recipes and meal planning, but for now, they need the support and exploration that only therapy can offer.
I’ll let Melissa tell you more about what to seek out in a good counseling experience. Enjoy!
Hi Everyone, this is Melissa from Trying to Heal and I’m so excited to be writing for Gena!
I am, as I’m sure you are, I’m a huge fan of Gena’s blog. And of course meeting her in person goes to show how gracious and amazing she is. I love the variety she provides on her blog from recipes for raw foods, nutritional information and most of all, recovery/issues on eating disorders. The later can be a very sensitive subject for many, but I believe the more we talk about it, the more awareness is spread about the myths over how difficult eating disorders and recovery can be and that yes, you really can recover.
Alas, I’m here today to write about the part of recovering from an eating disorder that I think is the most vital and important: COUNSELING.
Many people shudder at the thought of going to a counselor or therapist, because they’re afraid it means there is something really wrong with them. Well, in retrospect there is something wrong with you if you have an eating disorder: you’re torturing your body, mentality and not living your life in a healthy manner. I went through the same stages when my eating disorder first started back in 2003. When I was at my lowest weight and struggling the most, a friend of mine in college threatened me about telling my parents that I was in trouble, or go to the school counselor. I reluctantly went to the counselor and cried the entirety of the first session because I felt so ashamed, embarrassed and guilty. At the time I was in denial, as I didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me other than I had lost some weight since I had brought my exercise back after slacking off at the beginning of school. But in reality and after warming up to my counselor, I was able to dive into what was really going on in my life causing me to harm my body and walk down the path of a slow suicide.
As much as this first bout of counseling helped me open up to my disease and confront it with the effort of recovery, it didn’t go about the way it should have, and the way that would have made me most comfortable. I think there are several things you should look for when you decide to seek counseling as a step in your recovery to make it the most effective.
This can come in many different forms.
One thing I didn’t include on this list but that most people worry about, is MONEY. Yes, counseling can be expensive, but you know what, I believe it’s the best money you’re going to spend. I remember being terrified at the amount of money that I was going to have to spend to talk to this woman, but I bit the bullet and made adjustments to my living expenses to make sure I could get the help I needed (I also got a bit of help from my parents, which was nice and something you can always look into if you want). To this day I don’t regret a single penny that I’ve given to her because in the half year I’ve been seeing her, I have made more progress in my recovery than I have in the past 6 years trying to recover on my own.
So all in all, I highly suggest looking for a counselor if you are recovering from an eating disorder. Having an unbiased person to talk to about your issues and even just the little things going on in your life can make such a big difference. I can see how my life has changed by talking my way through things like social events that cause me high anxiety, walking into a new relationship with a guy, and dealing with my guilts over eating and overexercising. And even if you don’t decide to seek help like this now, I think it’s something to always consider!