When it was suggested I seek treatment for my eating disorder, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be doing the work on my own? Was I going to make friends? How long would I be there? Did I really want to recover?
Seeking treatment for the first time can bring a great deal of fear, nerves and anxiety – that’s completely normal. You likely have many questions and much skepticism, especially since the road to recovery for most is rarely linear. Although treatment and recovery certainly aren’t easy, they are undoubtedly worth it.
Here are five things that stuck with me the most through my journey. Hopefully they’ll help ease any fears or concerns you may have!
1. Sometimes it takes more than one try.
I had always imagined that treatment would be a quick, one-time “fix.” Not only was I surprised that it wasn’t quick, I was frustrated that I kept going back. People were telling me it was okay, but I was embarrassed.
You know what? I’m glad I did it. Each time, I learned something new about myself. If I wasn’t open to trying again, I absolutely would not be as far in recovery as I am today. Returning to treatment is nothing to be ashamed about – I learned to be proud of my decisions to take care of myself, because ultimately, that’s what matters most.
2. It doesn’t have to be scary.
Treatment is actually not that scary. The thought of doing the work of recovery can be intimidating, but once you actually go into treatment, it’s not a bad place. The environment can be very nurturing, supportive and healthy, especially if we choose to make it that way. When we all support each other and nourish our recovery, the fear of treatment fades. Sure I was scared each and every time I came back, but once I physically got there, I was reminded that I was right where I needed to be.
3. Residential facilities become a safe place.
I’ve been to the residential level of care four different times. Each time, I had the same counselors, same social workers and sometimes even the same peers. I admit sometimes I got too comfortable, but ultimately it was a blessing. I felt as though I could be myself, struggle when I needed to and celebrate my successes. I was able to be completely honest with my treatment team and knew they would back me up and support me no matter what. Each time, I knew what to expect and how to push myself to get even more out of my stay.
4. My dedicated treatment team became a huge part of my life and my recovery.
I was apprehensive about trusting the staff at first. I was afraid that if I was honest with them in my thoughts and feelings, I would get in trouble. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once I opened up, I found that my team of therapists, counselors and others truly cared about me as an individual, not as a “patient.” They believed in me and gave me insight and inspiration I still carry to this day. They made all the difference in my time in treatment as well as in who I am today. I cannot thank them enough.
5. Not every day is a bad day.
Treatment is hard. Recovery is hard. Some days seem impossible to get through, but other days are filled with many smiles and positives. It is more than possible to have a good day in treatment. Maybe you didn’t meet certain goals in a given day, but felt good emotionally, laughed or were able to accept a compliment. Those days are just as important.
Believe it or not, I actually have some good memories of being in treatment. It has become a huge part of my life and it’s nice to be able to look back on some of those days and smile. My biggest piece of advice: keep an open mind into what treatment offers. As was the case with me, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.
If you’re looking for eating disorders treatment, I encourage you to check out Walden’s programming.
Rose Kelleher is a junior at Endicott College, who, in her own words, dedicates her life to helping those who struggle with eating disorders and associated diagnoses to help guide them on their path to recovery.