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My name is Sarah. I am a graduate student, Quaker, animal lover, hippie, quasi-cyclist, feminist, partner to a wonderful man, (mostly) vegan. I’m also an e.d. survivor. My eating disorder started at age nine, with compulsive overeating. My family often used food or comfort, so I learned that food was a way to numb and “deal with” difficult or unpleasant emotions. My eating disorder switched to anorexia at age 15. Since that time, I have been bouncing back and forth between anorexia, bulimia, ed-nos, and recovery.

I’m now 26 and back in outpatient treatment. I relapsed last year (when I relapse, I tend to go all out. My relapses don’t typically last for days or weeks, but rather, months or years), and got back into treatment at the encouragement of a friend. My various rounds of treatment have always been on an outpatient basis, sometimes with specialists, sometimes not; sometimes with a whole treatment team, sometimes not. As a teen/young adult, I was not about to suggest residential or inpatient treatment (though I desperately¬† needed it), and my parents did not take steps in that direction. This past February, my treatment team suggested I go into the intensive outpatient and/or partial hospitalization program at my treatment center because I was having medical problems, my progress had stalled, and it was clear that I needed more support. My insurance company (through my job as a TA at my university) denied coverage. They also informed me that my mental health benefits were used up. Thankfully, my treatment center figured out how to make this work, and I have been able to consistently see my treatment team.

My current treatment center has shown me e.d. treatment like never before. I have never met treatment providers that are so compassionate and knowledgeable. I have been introduced to the use of DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) in e.d. treatment. I have also been shown that there are treatment providers who will commit to clients for as long as it takes (we don’t even talk about time frames unless I want to), and will do whatever they can to make sure that clients can continue treatment (i.e. reduced payment plans and pro bono appointments for those of us with no insurance or crappy insurance). I now have treatment providers who acknowledge but *never* focus solely the amount of work that I still need to do to recovery. They always focus on the progress that I am making, even as I continue to struggle. I now have treatment providers who refuse to write me off as “chronic” and whose unfailing belief that, not only can I recover, but I can maintain recovery, has helped me begin to believe that myself. My treatment team has shown me what truly unconditional positive regard looks and feels like. They have let me be an active player and collaborator in my treatment process, and they have always treated me like a competent, intelligent, knowledgeable adult, rather than a child who needs treatment decisions to be made for her and who needs to be “educated” about her illness. I could go on and on. And I probably will! But not in this post.

This blog is going to serve a number of purposes. First, I am so delighted and encouraged to see all of the pro-recovery/e.d. awareness blogs out there. When I was working in e.d. education and advocacy a few years ago, this virtual community did not exist. I’m just itching to join the dialogue! I also think that one of the things that sparked my relapse last year was the fact that I pulled out of the activist community both in general, and related to e.d.’s specifically. It’s incredibly difficult to manage graduate school and, well, a life. Grad school does not promote balance. And, yet, balance I must. Being active in the pro-recovery/e.d. awareness world was so important to my recovery. So, this blog is my way of re-entering that.

Also, I am constantly considering the possibility of going into e.d. treatment as a clinician. Obviously this will only happen after a full and sustained recovery on my part. But, my treatment center has really opened my eyes to what a positive and self-affirming experience e.d. treatment can be, and I would like to someday practice based on their model. So, this blog will also give me a space to “theorize,” think, brainstorm, and dialogue with others about eating disorders and their treatment.

This is also my “coming out,” so to speak. Most people in my life know about my eating disorder. However, many do not understand what an ongoing struggle it is. Though I will not be sharing extremely personal treatment details on here, I will not hide the fact that a I am someone with an eating disorder.** Because I am a college instructor and my students could potentially stumble upon this blog, I don’t think it’s appropriate to divulge a lot of personal information. However, it’s time that I “out” myself and stop worrying that someone in my graduate school life might find this and find out I have an eating disorder. While I firmly believe in healthy, professional boundaries, I also believe that there is no shame in having an eating disorder and that it is something that people should not have to hide for fear of stigma, etc. So, here I am!

We’ll see how this goes . . .

** I do have another blog that traces my current recovery/treatment experience much more closely and in detail. It is a “friends only” blog, so you will need a livejournal account to read it. It can be found at http://formyed.livejournal.com

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