Just under a year ago I finally decided – or rather, was encouraged by some family members – to talk to my primary care provider about about eating and about depression. She recommended a (wonderful!) therapist, and I've been having regular visits with her since the end of May 2011.
I have to admit, I was very worried at first and didn't know what to expect. Like I told my PCP at the time, I don't remember a whole lot about my childhood and I didn't really want to. But, my therapist made me feel comfortable and safe, and we take things at a pace that I can handle. I'm not saying that it isn't painful sometimes, but she always guides me back to a safe place and helps me work my way through it. Maybe therapy isn't for everyone, but so far I'm happy that I chose to do it. My world has changed so much – and so have I.
Obviously, there were a number of things to consider before choosing a therapist. Mine had to be female. I needed someone who specialized in eating disorders, NOT weight loss. I needed someone that I could be comfortable talking with. I needed to feel that she wasn't disgusted by my fatness. (Some medical professionals just aren't comfortable with obesity. They understand anorexia and bulimia, but maybe not just plain bingeing. Since I didn't have a “skinny ED,” could they still work with me properly?) I should have had preliminary interviews with a few local therapists before I chose one, but I didn't – I got lucky. She had my PCP's recommendation, I liked her right away after speaking to her on the phone, and I was too frightened to call anyone else.
The first thing she recommended to me was to start a journal, for my eyes only, where I could explore my thoughts and feelings. At first it was extremely uncomfortable. It felt unnatural and silly and pointless. But then.... well, I'm on my third notebook now. Somehow it became my primary lifeline and the best way to work out just about everything. One of the things I want to do here at Recovering Grace is to share some of my journal entries, to share the journey I've been on and take a look back at where I was, where I am now, and where I'm going. Because of course I'm not finished, I'm still recovering every day. But... I want to retrace the path from the start, explore the scenery from out here, and see how it works to go from self-hate, to indifference, to acceptance, to love (or, at least, wherever I am on that spectrum).
I also want to find out how to go from unhealthy to healthy, even if I'm still fat. I am currently exploring the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement, but I'm just not confident in it yet. Right now I am fat, but I am not healthy. So many blogs and websites talk about the “being healthy” part, but I haven't seen much about how to get from “not healthy” to “being healthy.” I know that's a different path for every body, but I want to explore how – and if – it will happen for me.
After all, the only thing I can say about eating disorders is from my own experience. I only know binge eating, and I only know how it manifests for me. I only know what works for me – and what doesn't. I can't tell anyone else how to start, where to go, who to talk to, what to do, and what will happen. All I can do is share my own path and hope it helps someone take a first step. Start SOMEwhere, talk to SOMEone. I encourage you to share the burden; it's awfully tough to keep doing this thing alone.
If my journey sounds familiar to you and if you’d like to reach out, there are a number of resources available to you. First, of course, talk to your primary care provider (if you have one and if you can trust them - if you can’t trust them when it comes to your weight...well that’s a different article entirely). Next, check out the National Eating Disorder Association’s website for a massive variety of information for you, your family and friends, your doctor, and including great information on where to find a therapist and how to interview them to be sure they are the right fit for you. There’s also To Write Love on Her Arms, a group that serves as “a bridge to help” - it has a certain “cool” factor that I find attractive and exciting. They provide a list of hotlines and counseling services here.
If you are interested in the Health at Every Size idea, please check out Dr. Linda Bacon’s website and her very interesting book. She’s the originator of the HAES movement and her site has a great list of blogs and organizations that advocate HAES and promote positive body image. If you are new to the HAES concept, you might also want to take a look at this article from Body Love Wellness: How to Get Started With Health at Every Size.