I would like to say that orchestrating my life after treatment was a very smooth transition, but it is really where the work began. As a musician, I have always understood the importance of structure and repetition in order to make a truly beautiful melody–I just never expected recovery would require the same discipline and practice.
People have misconceptions about treatment being the only place where you put in the work and then after that you’re magically fixed and ready to return to your home environment with the expectation of being the child your parents knew before your disease took hold.
The truth is, after treatment, there is still a lot of work to do.
Making progress in the confines of a treatment center was the easy part – even if I did not realize it at first. Implementing what I learned in treatment at home and school proved to be as difficult as treatment.What I learned about myself in treatment and the continued support of the people from Project HEAL, my family, and my therapist, is that I am not alone and I can thrive in environments that used to be a trigger for me.
One of the biggest lessons I learned in treatment is one of the simplest ones: it is okay to get help. Through the therapy I received in treatment, I learned that I suffer, like most people struggling with anorexia, from high anxiety and depression. My psychiatrist at the treatment center prescribed a low dose of Lexapro to help me combat my anxiety around eating. What I did not expect, however, was this huge dark cloud that I did not realize I was living under was lifted soon after I started taking the medication.
While I did not notice the effects immediately, I felt so empowered when I was placed in a high stress situation and was not consumed with anxiety. I could think clearly and recall the tools I learned in treatment to manage my symptoms.
From there, it took off. We established a contract in treatment that my parents and I stuck to and continue to stick to today. There are strict, yet simple, guidelines for all of us to deal with my eating disorder. This structure leaves no gray areas in how things are done, and therefore, takes the anxiety and stress out of mealtimes and allows me to trust my parents with implementing my treatment.
The amount of trust and communication this has built between me and my family members has been the best effect of treatment and has spilled over into every aspect of my life. I have finally been able to trust and communicate with myself and with that, I have been able to reconnect with the things that make me unique as a person – like my ability to interpret and play music.
The joy I have playing now surpasses anything music has ever given me before treatment.
I can be light and funny and goof around with my sister now. I can go out with my friends and participate in school events. I never cared about those things before. I can take care of myself and clearly recognize what I need and want. I can be happy.
We all have a unique path in this life, and the abilities to orchestrate our dreams lies within us all. Eating disorders can cut you off from these truths about ourselves, but what I want you to know is that you can find it again…there is help and a solution. You never have to do this alone.
It is my hope that my story will be heard by those who need to hear it in a way they never have before and that they find a way to trust my words. And through this a way to orchestrate their own lives into recovery….listen to the music.
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