To myself one year ago,
Today will be one of the longest, scariest days of your life. You will feel lost and lonely. You will feel like you don’t understand. You will feel like everyone is against you. Today will be hard, tomorrow will be hard, the next four months will be hard….hell, the next year will be hard. But you can do it because even though you don’t know it, you want to. You want your life back. I know you think this is your life, it’s what you’ve known for so long. It has become comfortable, but there is SO much more to this life than this.
There is so much more to life than constant fear and anger around food and your body. There is so much more to life than exercise and emptiness. There is so much more to life than the pain you’re causing yourself and those who love you.
You’re going to cry. A lot. But you’re also going to laugh until it hurts. You’re going to feel homesick for somewhere else, but you’re going to learn to be at home inside of yourself. You’re going to want to run away on numerous occasions, but just be still. You’re going to feel alone, but you will meet the most amazing people who will remind you that you are NEVER alone. You’re going to fight the process every step of the way and tell everyone that it doesn’t work for you…trust the process, trust your team; it is the hardest thing to do, but as you learn to trust yourself they will learn to trust you.
I know you’re already thinking about all of the bad things you can do once you’re out of treatment. If that’s what gets you through the day, okay, but just know that by the end of this the urge to do so will be less.
I know you think that you can’t do this. I know you think you don’t want to. I know you think you’re doing this for everyone else, but you’re not. Absolutely no one can make you walk through those doors or stay there. Admitting that you want this is the first kill shot to your disorder.
If I could tell you everything I know now, I would say this:
- Use your voice. Speak up for yourself, fight the voices that tell you otherwise
- Playdoh and art therapy save lives
- Let your friends and family in
- Cry (a lot). It helps.
- Focus on your own journey
- Make friends, it makes all of this a lot easier
- Feel allllll of the feelings
- Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day. Focus on the big picture.
And most importantly….
TRUST THE DAMN PROCESS.
Your team will tell you (a lot) that you can’t take the easy way out. You will hate them a lot for this. You will kick and scream. You will begin to have panic attacks. You will cry on the laps of strangers. You will hide in corners. You will learn how to cope and begin to accept yourself.
The next year will not be perfect. You will stumble and feel like giving up. Going back will seem so much easier than fighting. But there is something that stops you…it’s the little glimpses of the happiness of life without an eating disorder that will keep you going.
Even though it will be the hardest year of your life, it will also be the happiest.
When you leave treatment you won’t feel ready, but you’ll keep moving forward with your life. You are going to feel like life isn’t going your way. You are going to convince yourself you aren’t good enough. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, you are going to spend the next year fighting and when you are really, truly ready, everything is going to fall into place in the most beautiful way possible.
The first person you’re going to meet is an RPA named Sara. She is going to make you drink milk and get mad at you for eating two bananas in one day. Months from now she is going to hug you and tell you how proud she is of you when you leave her outpatient group for the last time before moving to Nashville, where you will eventually get your dream job.
You’re going to meet Kena. You will love her when she takes you off of bathroom support and be really mad at her when she won’t let you stop doing family therapy. She is going to be the person your parents learn to trust and will help them understand. She will happy dance when she sees you hula hooping at your first game day and scream in excitement when you tell her you got an internship and are finally moving forward again.
You will want to push your friends away and they will pull you even closer. They will be there when you need them and give you your space when you ask for it. They will send you hilarious letters that you read over and over again and spend way too much money buying you sharpies in the best colors. They will never leave you. They will love you back in a way that feels impossible and overwhelming but keeps you afloat.
Your parents won’t understand, no matter how hard they try. They will do everything in their power to love and support you. Let them. You need them. They want what is best for you. They will be on the other end of the phone during your worst moments, and they will still believe in you. They will be the ones who will find you when you feel lost and you will never be able to repay them for this time.
The most important thing I can tell you is to give grace. Give grace to yourself and to others, but mostly to yourself. This will be the most challenging time of your life thus far. You will feel scared, angry, betrayed, lost and so much more, but it does get better. I promise.
As the queen, Taylor Swift once said: “it gets easier, then it gets okay and then it feels like freedom.”
You’ll be okay,
The real Kristin