It just dawned on me how much more relaxed I feel in my own skin now as compared to before treatment. Before I lived in a constant state of anxiety resulting from insecurity with my weight/body and acting like things with me were OK. It was exhausting but, interestingly enough, I didn’t realize why I was so exhausted, I just knew that I was tired…so tired.
Now, I have moods and feel exhausted but I’m SO incredibly thankful that my exhaustion is derived from other factors. It’s realizations like this that make the difficulty of treatment worth it because I know this process has brought me peace. 🙂
There is a relatively new field in healthcare design called “Evidence Based Design” which was created to study the effects of a person’s environment on their healing. The evidence shows that certain design aspects (i.e. color, placement of furniture, artwork) can positively or negatively effect how someone recovers. I experienced this first hand at my treatment center.
The environment at the center was not ideal, the space was too small, the furniture mismatched, the blinds broken and the physical therapy gym above had us all covering our heads because of the thumping. I joked that I was going to bring a hammer with me just so I could rearrange the artwork into a more appealing array. Although the treatment helped me, it was hard for me to look past the physical space and feel relaxed enough to fully process everything I was learning. I can see now just how important the physical environment is to healing and how conducive it is to transformation.
I mentioned before that I was in treatment with an amazing bunch of girls and women. Although all of us suffered from an eating disorder, the symptoms manifested themselves differently. Some would not eat (anorexia), some would binge and purge (bulimia) and some would binge (binge-eating disorder). Most suffered from anorexia and bulimia so I was very much in the minority. This was extremely difficult, especially when I “stepped down” from full day treatment to evenings.
The anorexics/bulimics triggered me to feeling badly and I triggered them. You see, I represented and looked exactly like what they feared most – being heavy. I couldn’t understand how they thought they were fat. My day treatment group dynamics were such that I didn’t feel the triggers profoundly, however, I did feel them in the evening group.
Because of this (and having spoken to others in binge-eating disorder treatment) I believe it most efficacious for anorexics/bulimics and binge-eaters be treated separately. There is enough emotional sabotage to sort through without the treatment group adding to it. This is one of the reasons I decided to start LifeStrides…so binge-eaters had a community of their own in which to heal.
After some deep soul-searching, I decided I needed to leave my job. So, I planned and plotted and gave a resignation notice after a big project was completed at work which just happened to coincide with the end of my apartment lease. Talk about great timing, this was a sign that I was making the right decision! At this point, I was 6 months post-treatment although still seeing a therapist and going to group therapy each week.
I packed up my apartment and Tai Baby (he was so ready – see below!) and I moved in with my mom and step-dad with the dream of opening a center to treat people with Binge-Eating Disorder and Obesity. And so….LifeStrides was born!
During treatment, we focused a lot on identifying “triggers.” A “trigger” is an event, emotion or situation that prompts or causes a binge. In completing those exercises, I realized that one of my biggest triggers was work. I loved the work that I was doing running outpatient cancer clinics but the resulting stress was slowly killing my spirit.
But, how could I quit my job? This had been my career for 20 years! How would I live? What would I do? These were the pivotal questions for which I needed to do some soul-searching.
During treatment I saw a therapist every week. To this day, I can’t remember a thing we talked about, I just know I cried a lot and she quickly drilled down to my sensitive core issues. I’m sure the sessions had a positive affect so I really wish I could remember them!
Two meals were served at the treatment center, breakfast and lunch which was the biggest adjustment for me. I was given limited choices, a finite amount of food to eat and a time frame in which to eat it. Eating with a group of girls who were anorexic and bulimic and who didn’t want to eat was really uncomfortable. Here I was hoping for more food and trying to stretch the portion so I didn’t finish it within the first 5 minutes of the 30 minute meal when the others were trying to avoid it at all costs! What a foreign concept. To make matters worse, we had to avoid food rituals that I didn’t even know were food rituals until the counselor scolded me when I engaged in the behavior. Can you say awkward?!?!