I lived with an all-consuming eating disorder for ten years. I lost my joy, my passion and my spirituality. Making the choice to seek help and surrender everything I knew, or what I thought I knew, and accept help in an inpatient facility was just one of the many powerful factors that helped me find freedom from my eating disorder. During my time in inpatient treatment, I finally had a safe place to explore my feelings, my fears and learn from my mistakes instead of punishing myself for them.
I’ve learned so many powerful lessons in the past five years of my recovery journey. The most powerful lesson has come from being honest with myself, my loved ones and with my treatment team. Telling the truth seems like such a simple concept, but after so many years of denial, resentment and shame, I discovered that every component of my life had been shrouded in little lies or “half-truths” that I had been telling myself in order to cope. Detangling the lies from the truths in my life took time, bravery and commitment.
Recovery is different for everyone; no two journeys are alike. However, no matter what path you take to find solid recovery, powerful life-changing lessons are learned along the way.
Here are two important lessons that I’ve learned, so far, on my recovery journey:
1. Live in your truth. Be honest with yourself and validate the feelings you have. Cultivate honest relationships.
I spent so much time worrying that the way I really felt about living with type 1 diabetes and the way I felt about my body and food would be shamed. I was very careful never to share my true feelings. I felt alone and lost with the emotions and anxieties that I struggled with inside. I was ashamed of my true feelings and spent years hating myself for having them. I hid them from my most beloved family and friends.
When I finally shared my secrets with my family and my husband, I was unexpectedly met with compassion, concern and support. Although they could not completely understand, they wanted to support me and help me find the medical and psychological help that I needed. Being honest with family, friends and to countless doctors and healthcare professionals has been one of the most difficult things I have had to conquer and it has changed my relationships with all of these people in so many positive ways.
2. Be honest with your words. Learn how to say no and be honest about your ability to commit.
I spent years making promises that I couldn’t keep. I wasn’t honest with myself or others about what I could commit to versus what I could actually accomplish. During the first year of my recovery I realized this was something I really wanted to change. In order to do that, I had to stop committing to things that I knew I couldn’t do, or didn’t have time to do; I had to embrace the concept of being able to say, “No.”
Before my journey into recovery I worried that if I ever said “no” to a commitment or someone asking me to do them a favor they would get offended. While that always remains a possibility when I utilize the word “no” in my life today, more often than not I find I now have a lot more respect from my family, friends and co-workers. Knowing your personal limits and being smart about how much you can commit to requires personal perception and self-respect. Having ambition is important, and while I still do possess a great deal of ambition for my life and my dreams, it’s important to also be realistic about how much one can accomplish in any given amount of time. I honor the commitments I have now and it has helped me learn how to better honor myself.
About the Author:
Asha Brown is the founder of the organization We Are Diabetes, an organization devoted to providing support for type 1 diabetics who struggle with an eating disorder. She is a member of the American Diabetes Association Women and Diabetes Subcommittee, as well as Diabetes Advocates, and has devoted the last five years of her life spreading awareness of the deadly eating disorder diabulimia that has become prevalent in the type 1 diabetic community. Asha has worked first-hand with families, patients, educators and medical professionals in an effort to educate them about type 1 diabetics with eating disorders and to promote better treatment options for those who are suffering.