(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
After leaving residential treatment I stayed in touch with the friends I had made there. I used those connections to aid me in my daily struggles. They knew how challenging recovery could be, and we shared many of the same goals. Having someone on the other end of the phone who understood my feelings was a tremendous help. We brainstormed and cried with each other and sometimes met for coffee or just to hang out.
On one particular day when my meal plan had just been adjusted, I remember feeling overwhelmed. Ed was telling me I didn’t need to follow a new meal plan, but I knew better and called a friend. She was able to relate to my fears and frustrations and could offer me comfort. We even ate a snack together over the phone, and that helped me push Ed aside and stick to my plan.
I also utilized my family and other friends. Sometimes, when I had negative thoughts, I emailed someone or picked up the phone to get words of encouragement. Those connections kept me moving forward so that I could redirect my negative thoughts into positive ones and have a reality check. My attitude always improved when they would say, “I believe in you, I am proud of you, and you aren’t alone.”
Additionally, I attended a monthly support group at MEDA, my local eating disorder association (www.medainc. org). At each meeting a recovered person told his or her story which was followed by a question and answer session. I always seemed to find practical ideas in their stories, which I then used in my own process. Listening to someone who had recovered gave me confirmation that recovery is possible; plus I was able to connect with friends I’d met in treatment and make new ones, as well. Connections with supports are important. Laughing and crying with these people was much healthier than doing it with Ed.
Having support is an essential piece of the recovery process. You can’t do this alone. When you are having a hard time, whom can you laugh, cry, and connect with? Write down a list of people that can help you. Where might you find even more support?
With health, hope and strength,