(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)

handsmallI was told early on that recovery is not a straight line, that it has ups and downs. Until I lived it, though, I did not realize how true that statement really was. You have to fall down in order to learn how to get back up.

I fell and needed help.

Despite my progress, Ed was in my way more than I want­ed him to be at this point. My food choices were becoming less risky, and I frequently skipped meals and snacks. I felt scared and vulnerable. After talking with Rachel and the rest of my outpatient treatment team, we collectively agreed that I needed a more intensive approach to move forward. So I decided to re-enter inpatient treatment, and Bob made the arrangements for me to have another intake at Walden.

Admitting I needed more help was very hard because I felt embarrassed and humiliated. My first thought was that I had failed. How could I have let this happen? I had to remind myself that Ed is strong and hard work is necessary to fight him off. Falling down does not mean I failed; I just needed more weapons. After I thought about it, I realized asking for help shows strength, not weakness. I hoped and prayed that Walden would accept me back into the program.

After the intake, when they came back and told me I would be staying, a sense of relief came over me. I was happy that I would get the help I sought. Another risk had paid off, and I was thankful. Even though my condition was not as medically compromised as before, the 24-hour care would help me to break the cycle of negative behaviors and thoughts. I felt some initial embarrassment about being back there again, but being around the same staff as before calmed me down right away. Comfort and a sense of security set in, and soon we were all laughing and joking together. By treating and talking to me like a person rather than an eating disorder, they helped me push through those difficult emotions.

Still, Ed was trying to convince me that I didn’t have an eating disorder, and that I didn’t need anyone, only him. I fought those thoughts through positive self-talk. I told myself to be brave, and remembered Bob saying I should “trust the process.” I also told Ed to leave me alone.

At this point, my body checking was becoming more fre­quent. I was repeatedly using my hands to feel specific areas that I thought were getting bigger. I knew that wasn’t good and would hinder my progress, so I told Bob. We brainstormed and came up with suggestions for ways to decrease the behav­ior and lower my anxiety about it.

Because I could body check anywhere and at anytime, I needed to find many different tools to help me out in various scenarios. Here’s what we came up with: sitting on my hands, sitting certain ways that are comfortable, counting to fifty, jour­naling, putting an object in my hands, and speaking a positive mantra. I utilized any device that I could to stop the negative behavior. When I caught myself body checking, I used many of these techniques, which took practice. Sitting on my hands was the one I used most often, because I could do that any­where, and it was effective.

Inpatient treatment provided me with new tools and ex­periences that made the ups and downs of my recovery begin to get easier. But where would recovery take me next, and am I ready for it?

REFLECTIONS

Body checking can become excessive when Ed is constant­ly telling you negative things about your body. Are you listen­ing to him? What tools can you use to stop the body checking behavior? Could you write in your journal, hold a tangible ob­ject in your hands, play with silly putty, or sit on your hands? Brainstorm with others and list 3 ways to stop the behavior. Then put them into practice the next time you find yourself body checking.

With health, hope and strength,

Cheryl