“Choosing recovery:” It’s not just thought, it’s constant and courageous action

Hi everyone! It’s been quite a while since the last post, so this one will be a bit longer to catch you all up! I’m glad to be back! I’m currently a college freshman and, it’s been a pretty wild ride… in the best and worst of ways.

In my first 4 days on campus, I was exactly the person I’d always knew I was beneath depression, toxic religion, and abuse. I had all the energy I wanted to socialize non-stop – such a drastic change from middle/high school. But… then my father called with an ultimatum – change my nickname back from Max to my birth name Daniella, or he’d stop paying tuition. From August to now, I’ve also realized I have symptoms of trauma and seen depression and apathy start to make a bid for my heart as winter approaches.

Granted, I’ve also started seeing a therapist who, after years of a rocky road with “mental health professionals,” is more than I’d dare ask for. I’ve got a squad of understanding friends – and, of course, the clarity and room to grow that comes with living 5 hours from an abusive home. I’m also way more active on campus than your average person – involved in club, food drive, and festival leadership positions that make me so happy. I even won a scholarship for my involvement!

But emotionally, I’m a wreck. This whole way, I’ve been believing that seeing my therapist and being aware of problematic thoughts and habits entail recovery. Choosing recovery is a phrase you hear a lot in the ED community… but strangely, it’s not popular with depression, anxiety, abuse, or trauma.

With eating disorders and addiction, you’ve got to keep choosing to eat healthy (or not binge) and to avoid using your substance – straightforward, but hard as hell. But for my struggles? How do I “choose recovery” from depression and religion trauma? I thought about this a lot today, and here’s what I decided.

What if therapy isn’t all there is? What if choosing recovery doesn’t just involve realizing shitty ways I think and act, but choosing to grow away from them by changing my actions? 

I’ve been thinking for the past few days that there’s no way I can give up the incredible, incredible peace, friends, and opportunities I have on this college campus without a fight. After all, I spent years living just for the moments I now have in front of me. How could I just let myself slump back into who I once was? But maybe that fight actually manifests not solely in thoughts, but primarily in actions.

In everything I have a choice. I can spend the rest of the day hiding in bed like I always used to, or I can take a shower. I can avoid social interactions or I can square my shoulders and take the risk. I can gorge myself on the Ferrero Rocher sitting on my desk, or I can go to dinner.

This is what I realized: IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HARD. It’s supposed to be something I’ve got to push through. It’s supposed to be an hour-by-hour, even minute-by-minute deliberate and courageous choice. Maybe instead of saying I can’t get out of bed, I start saying I am not getting out of bed – it is a choice I am making without bothering to fight back. And then, maybe I get out of bed.

Tonight, I’m going to try to brush my teeth, shower, and change; go to dinner; go to a meeting; and finish my work while hanging out with friends. I’m going to be scared. It’ll be hard and I’ll constantly face nay-saying thoughts of you can’t fight this, why bother trying, just hurt yourself or die. But… I ran a gauntlet all this way to get to this treasure of a place. But… this place in life is all I EVER fought for. But… I think there’s more to the fight than this.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t quote Carrie Arnold’s blog ED Bites – which seems to have become an anthem in the ED recovery community!

The problem is that you don’t just choose recovery. You have to keep choosing recovery, over and over and over again. You have to make that choice 5-6 times each day. You have to make that choice even when you really don’t want to. It’s not a single choice, and it’s not easy.

Carrie Arnold

I think choosing recovery is a constant and courageous choice to act and think differently. And tonight, and maybe even tomorrow, I’m going to see how it goes. 

Wish me luck, and I hope this view of things helps you in some way along your recovery too!

Love, Max

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